8 easy ways to make your next farmer's market trip zero waste
The days are getting longer, the sun is showing it's face again, and spring is around the corner. And with it, our favorite farmer's markets are opening up in all their beautiful, bustling glory.
There's no better way to spend a Saturday morning than fresh air, a brisk walk, and chatting with your produce guy or gal. Plus, with the extra hour of light, I for one am a little more motivated to swing after work on a weeknight to restock my fridge with fresh fruits and veggies when our provisions have gotten low.
So here we are, donning our walking shoes and digging out our sunglasses to usher in farmer's market season.
But what if your weekend feel-good health-forward activity is actually not so good for Mother Earth? Did you know that only 1% of plastic bags are recycled? Or that each plastic bag is only used for an average of 12 minutes before going to the landfill or ending up in the ocean?
That brings us to our first easy switch:
So often, we come across produce stands that only provide those lame plastic produce bags. They only get used a few times, at best, before being tossed, and more importantly they don't let your food breathe. There's a better way to bring home all your market goodies. Our cotton, reusable produce bags are the perfect size to fit everything from your Rainier cherries to your enormous leafy greens. It's one of the easiest switches you can make, and you'll be thanking yourself when the food is still fresh a few days later. Plus, when these babes pick up moisture or food residue from your veggie friends, you can just toss them in the wash with the rest of your clothes; the ultimate reusable.
With new batches of ripe vegetables and irresistable fruits, your bags are bound to fill up. That brings us to our next tip:
2. Bring a roomy basket or canvas tote for all your market finds.
You're sure to come up with more than an armful of beautiful new food, so be prepared by bringing your own flexible basket (there are some beautiful, wild crafted ones at Ballard Market from Alaffia, right here in Washington!) or reusable bag. Produce bags can be used for smaller items like berries or potatoes, or snacks you want to keep separate, and then be put in your larger bag to easily make it home with you.
It can be intimidating to bring your reusables to the market for the first time, but it's become quite the norm here in Seattle, and it can spark some really fruitful conversations (... see what we did there?!)
What about things like bread and baked goods or even artisan cheese? We're glad you asked. Tip #3:
3. Make sure you have your Bee's Wrap with you to bring home that baguette or gouda you'll be eyeing.
If you haven't tried Bee's Wrap for yourself, we promise you'll be blown away. It keeps your fresh baked bread from getting stale and your cheese from forming an unwanted hard crust. Avoid food waste with a new set of the Cheese Wraps or the extra long Baguette Wrap!
And for the goodies that are just too pretty not to munch on right away,
4. Don't forget your reusable cloth handkerchief or napkin.
There are so many beautiful handkerchiefs out there, and you can even upcycle an old t shirt or a worn set of sheets or towels to make your own. We never go anywhere without a hankie or a napkin. From wrapping up pastries to adding some cushion around ripe bruisable produce, they'll come in handy for sure. Plus, if you want to dig into something while you wander the stalls, they're perfect for polishing off the dirt and other farm-to-table dustings before enjoying the first bite. (But hey, a little dirt don't hurt, right?)
A big part of enjoying all the market has to offer is knowing you are part of something good and sustainable. Our fourth piece of advice is:
5. Make it a special part of your week to walk or bike or bus to the farmer's market.
If you make it a habit to get there in a low impact way by opting for public transportation or a walk or bike ride, it will without a doubt become your favorite day of the week. Frequenting the market like a pro just might lead you to build in a little extra time for movement and exercise (or if you're taking the bus, time to read or call a friend).
And an even more important part of reducing your carbon footprint:
6. For the love of all that is sustainable, eat seasonally!
There's nothing better than biting into a perfectly ripe, red strawberry in the middle of summer. Or picking up a basket full of bright, crisp Washington cherries. Getting to know what's in season all around you is a beautiful tradition, and cooking a delicious, flavorful meal is particularly rewarding when you know where it came from. Plus, eating what's in season where you live means supporting farming methods and food distribution patterns that are sustainable and natural. There's a term called "Food Miles" that refers to the distance your food travels from where it is grown to where it is ultimately purchased or consumed. The way the modern world ships food all over the globe just so we are never without our favorites is mins boggling. There's a much more natural cycle to things that you can follow. As our Local Food Wheels boast, we are lucky to have bountiful local food sources right here in Washington, from our fish to our farms. When you choose to eat only what's in season, you're voting for a better global food system.
Another way to be a conscious consumer is to:
7. Pay in cash to avoid receipts.
A receipt might seem small, but most are printed on waxy paper that can't be recycled. Receipts are such an outdated concept with the immediate access we have to our financial records at our fingertips. And even when you ask for no receipt, often times they print automatically. Make it a habit to carry cash so you can be sure to avoid receipts altogether.
But all our advice can be entirely wasted if you don't follow our final tip:
8. The early bird gets the worm!
Be sure to get there early before the booths have been picked over by our ever growing city crowds. The farmers and staff will be in the best mood and you'll get first pick of the cream of the crop. Plus, there won't be as many people to bump elbows with when you want to stay and chat with your favorite booth. Let me tell you, if you become a regular at your neighborhood farmer's market, your go-to booths will let you in on the secrets of all that is ripe and bursting with flavor.
You can see our favorite list of all the farmer's markets in Seattle and when they're open here.
Show us your produce bags and Bee's Wrap in action using our hashtag #belowimpact