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By Catherine Morba
Since 1994, the number of registered farmers’ markets nationwide has increased from under 2,000 to more than 8,600. Communities have renewed interest in eating locally grown food, a change that for many is motivated by the desire to be more environmentally conscious. At its core, buying local is a sustainable choice because of reduced transportation and food packaging. There are simple ways to make market shopping that much more (or rather, less!) impactful on the planet. The Saratoga Farmers’ Market collaborated with Sustainable Saratoga to compile tips for shoppers to be as “green” as the leafy collards we covet.
1. Write a shopping list: Check the refrigerator to see what groceries you already have before leaving the house. A list will also limit the number of shopping trips you’ll take for forgotten items throughout the week.
2. Carpool: Trade off driving with family and friends to save on mileage and emissions. Bike or walk if you are able! Remember that on November 2nd, the market will move to Wilton Mall, where it will be held from 9:30-1:30 every Saturday in front of the Bon Ton entrance.
3. Take a bag, leave a bag: Have a stock of reusable bags at the ready. The Friends of the Market volunteers offer a “take a bag, leave a bag” initiative for those who forget to bring them, and also accepts donations of reusable totes.
4. Return packaging: When making a purchase, ask the vendor if they reuse packaging. Battenkill Creamery sterilizes and reuses all of their glass dairy bottles that are rinsed and returned by customers. Bring back egg cartons, berry boxes, plastic planters, glassware, or rubber bands. Dump sturdier produce into a bag and return the packaging on the spot.
5. Buy in bulk: Buying large quantities of staple items saves on packaging, especially when you bring containers from home. Vegetables, cheeses, and meats can be repackaged and frozen for later use.
6. Contribute Compost: Divert food from the waste stream by bringing food scraps from home to add to the market compost bin, located near the market administrator’s table. The compost is brought to the Franklin Community Center and used for soil enrichment in their community garden.
7. Ask a vendor: If you’re looking for tips on proper food storage, returning packaging, buying in bulk, or cooking seasonal recipes, the best source of information is the person who grew, raised, or made the product.