Sunday, August 28, 2011

New habits: Start shopping at your local farmers' market.

I couldn't sleep in today, so I decided to wake up and start my day early. The farmers' market a few blocks away is open until 2pm on Saturdays (and every weekday morning) but I like having time to browse so I hopped on my bike and headed there. I've been shopping there for about a month and I only just realized that, although I'm cooking different things, I use more or less the same ingredients every time. I started by walking up and down the isles and looking at all the produce and prices, making mental notes as I go.

What to bring:
+ Bike and bike basket (it speeds up the whole process)
+ Cloth bags to hold everything while walking around
+ Containers (like the Tupperware I already own) or other bags for messier items which need packaging ie. berries
+ an egg carton, if you're planning on buying eggs.

What to look for:
- check the prices.
- check how the items are packaged. wrapped in plastic? put in boxes?
- where do the products come from? I noticed this summer that people were selling cherries from Portugal, for example. Or lettuce and cucumbers wrapped in plastic from the same source as the grocery store (Here I failed to see the point of buying from those stalls.) Talk to the sellers about their products and origins.
- After doing a good warm-up walk around, you'll notice many of the same products on the tables. The products you see most often are those which are in season. In season products are a more sustainable choice than those which require extra resources to produce. I'm still learning "what grows when" but the visual aspects of it at the market makes it easy to understand :)

So now that you know what to look for and what to bring, you just need to find your local market and go there! I love coming home and admiring all the freshness, and I get a thrill out of knowing the stuff is local and not covered in plastic!

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