Isn't about time to start thinking about skins?
Published June 24, 2020
By Joe Mavretic
Humans have inside skins around our kidneys, livers and intestines. We also have an inside-outer skin which we call our dermis and a thin outside-outer skin that is called the epidermis. Our epidermis only has five thin layers in which some pigments gives us our shade. This skin shade continues to cause us extraordinary social problems. Our epidermis, the outer-outer skin, keeps us dry but, unlike buffalos, does not produce a warm, insulating layer of soft hair or fur. Our inside skins around livers, kidneys and stomach are not thick enough to be useful for chores like carrying water or fruits.
When Europeans came to North Carolina they found Native Americans who used animal outer skins for warm winter robes and blankets, and animal inner skins for carrying water and harvested fruits. Native Americans, like Europeans, had mastered the use of fired clay as an outer skin for storing water and grains. Over the past four hundred years we have learned to substitute technology for animal skins and clay. We have expanded the use of four other kinds of commercial skins made from chemicals, wood (that we call paper), glass and metal. A visit to any supermarket is enlightening and might take your mind off breathing through that designer face mask.
As you go through the door and turn right toward the fruits and vegetables, notice that most of the produce has a natural outer skin that is edible except a few like pineapples, avocados and sweet potatoes. To keep fruits and vegetables from bruising one another, strategically placed, are short and long chemical skins that are used to separate them and to aid with check-out.
Shopping the condiment aisle exposes many shapes and sizes of outer chemical skins with several varieties of tops: screw, flip, jigger and, on mustard, one that is a bit like milking a cow. Down the cereal aisle are six-sided containers with paper outer skins having all manner of gibberish printed on them and many that have an inner skin.
Over in the meat department most of the beef, pork and chicken have a mixed outer chemical skin with a sturdy, opaque bottom side and a transparent top with a pound/price tattoo. Often there is an inner skin to separate the flesh from the bottom half outer skin.
Some things like rice, flour, and beans only have an outer skin. Mayonnaise usually has either a glass or a chemical outer skin. Most bread has a chemical outer skin but some high-end brands have an added inner-outer skin that just is a bother. An exception to this is very expensive French-style, baguette bread that has its own outer skin (crust) and is sold without an added skin until you get to check-out where it is placed either in a chemical or paper skin.
Milk generally is usually sold with either a waxed, paper skin or with a glass skin. Butter almost always has four paper inner skins and a paper outer skin. Each egg comes with its own natural skin but vendors have created a special chemical outer skin for breakage protection.
As you checkout at a grocery store, the register-associate will put all your goodies in small, chemical carrying skins unless you have provided your own as the sign reminded.
If you grab a burger on the way home, a window-associate will make sure it is covered with those colorful, fast-food, drive-thru paper and chemical skins that litter our streets and roads in combination with all those bits and pieces of those rubber skins that hold air for truck tires.
When you get home there is a package on your porch courtesy of "Home Delivery." This "wowser" gets things you absolutely have to have immediately to you overnight and is free (if you join a club or buy from a firm in trouble). Home delivery uses at least 27 assorted sizes of paper skins around absolutely critical stuff that was left on the porch for someone to steal. If rain was forecast, there was a chemical outer-outer skin to keep the inner-outer paper skin dry-much like my epidermis and dermis. In some packages there is an air-filled inner skin whose main purpose is to keep stuff from sliding around (OK, maybe to provide "The Joy of Popping.")
When the skins that Native Americans used were worn out they were cast aside to rot (biodegrade) in a year or two. Not our chemical, paper, glass and metal skins-they hang around for decades, some for centuries. Teeny, tiny pieces of some of the chemical skins are already in our bodies.
Isn’t it about time to start thinking about the need for all these commercial skins and how much we pay for all the skins that have invaded our life?