Plastic-Free at the Farmers' Market

Cauliflower from the farmers' market

I took a very sweaty meander through the farmers' market yesterday morning to pick up a few things for the week - cherries, purple cabbage, and cauliflower (for this recipe), among other things. Summer farmers' markets offer such a bounty. There are fruits and vegetables I can't find at the grocery store, period: loganberries, black raspberries, concord grapes, juicy non-mealy apricots, hot peppers with names I've never heard of, the biggest variety of squashes and radishes and leafy greens.

Of course, there are also fruits and vegetables at the farmers' market that I can't find at the grocery store plastic-free. I can buy berries at the grocery store, sure, but typically not without per-pint plastic packaging. At the farmers' market, though, berries come in punnets that can be returned to the farmer after I put the blueberries in my own tin to take home. Grapes, also, can be found without the big rustly plastic bags that encase them as the grocery stores. Cherry tomatoes, too, are freed from their plastic shells and set out just in cardboard containers, literally and figuratively ripe for the taking.

Cauliflower is one of my favorite vegetables (um, tied with most other vegetables, I guess), but in most stores it typically comes wrapped in a plastic bag. Forgoing it most of the year makes it all the butter when I find a farmers' market stand selling unpackaged cauliflowers, pictured here. Like cherries and blueberries and tiny sunny yellow tomatoes, I place them in my cloth produce bag for a summer-only plastic-free treat.

Maybe for you going low waste won't look like forgoing cauliflower nine months of the year while you wait to have the perfect local, plastic-free version from the farmers' market. Maybe it will look like making cauliflower a once-a-month treat for most of the year and then enjoying the glut every week of the summer that you can find them at the farmers' market. Regardless of your strategy: enjoy the plastic-free bounty this summer and fall. It's berry and tomato and all kinds of goodness season, and I want to get my hands on so much fresh produce that I feel thoroughly sated when the market ends in November.

You can find other ideas for staying zero waste at the farmers' market (like what to do with those rubber bands, etc.), here. Also, I've written before about a few ideas for preserving farmers' market food to avoid plastic the rest of the year too, here and here.