By Emily Meagher
Happy Earth Week! Some places celebrate Earth Day, others make it a weeklong event, and still others organize month-long festivities. At the Saratoga Farmers’ Market, we like to think that every day is Earth Day.
Farmers’ market operations are inherently more sustainable than factory and grocery store operations. Most obviously, vendors produce food locally, cutting down on transportation impacts. The Farmers Market Coalition cites that, on average, food travels over 1,000 miles from the point of production to the retail store. In contrast, practically all vendors at the Saratoga Farmers’ Market live just a county away from the market.
Many grow and produce their food with extra care for the environment, for instance by growing organically or choosing sustainable packaging. Think compostable mushroom boxes, egg carton returns, or glass deposits on items like maple syrup, yogurt, or kombucha. “It’s obvious to consider the earth when you’re a farmer; your hands are literally in the dirt. But other food producers are equally responsible for operating sustainably,” said Shane Avery, owner of Junbucha.
That green focus is evident in customers’ minds, too. Customers are prepared to shop with reusable totes and netted produce bags. They religiously return their empty containers. They often choose the more sustainable options even if it costs a little more. Julia, one market customer, stopped by to return her glass maple syrup jar, calling choosing glass over plastic “the intuitive choice.” She chooses jars as they are reusable, returnable, recyclable, and she uses them to store granola at home before returning them.
And then, there are the green choices that extend further than the farmers’ market. The Saratoga Farmers’ Market’s partnership with the Franklin Community Center is a prime example: customers drop off compost at the farmers’ market to be used in the Center’s community garden, while vendors donate unsold food to the food pantry.
All these green efforts point out a quiet strength of farmers’ markets: their belief in the efficacy of traditional ways, where less is more, quality trumps quantity, and there is a deep-rooted connection to the earth.
This week’s recipe: Local Bacon and Cheese Quiche