By Himanee Gupta-Carlson
Farmers lived sustainable lives long before climate change became a pressing issue. Members of multi-generation farm families tell stories of how nothing went to waste. Bones from a roast chicken became broth; food scraps from meals were turned into compost; old storage bins were repurposed to create walking paths or signposts.
Sustainability is gaining a new meaning in 2020 for farmers, the Saratoga Farmers’ Market, and all of us. Beginning March 1, a statewide ban on the distribution of single-use plastic bags at retail outlets takes effect. Farmers and other vendors at the Saratoga Farmers’ Market will no longer be able to offer such bags as a convenience to market shoppers, though certain items such as bags for storing meats and produce are exempt.
The market has been preparing for several months with information tables and market tote bags available for a nominal fee. Vendors have been reducing their supplies of plastic bags, replacing them with those made of paper or other materials.
We invite you to help us make the market more sustainable. Here are a few ideas:
Bring your own bags. Washable mesh or net bags made of recycled plastic offer an easy-to-carry means of storing such items as leeks and greens.
Forgo bags altogether, if you can. This might not be possible for fragile items such as pea shoots or salad greens. But it’s do-able for carrots, turnips, cabbage, apples, and other items that are featured in the market’s winter months. Foods such as fish and fresh pasta also can be placed upon purchase in storage containers you bring from home.
Return such items as egg cartons or glass jars to vendors for reuse. Vendors who sell eggs, cheeses, pickles, jams, corn, milk, yogurt, and other foods appreciate such returns as it helps reduce the costs incurred in obtaining these items.
If you eat at the market, consider bringing your own plate, bowl and silverware.
Finally, shop the market for crafts items that can further make your lives more sustainable. Many crafts vendors offer coffee mugs, reusable egg crates, bowls, and boxes.
This week’s recipe: Whatever Soup