Summertime—when the living’s easy, BBQs are plentiful and farmers’ markets are bursting with seasonal fruits and vegetables. Ever since Max and started dating (2 years ago) we have rarely missed a Saturday farmers’ market on Grand Avenue in Oakland. If you live in the Bay Area, I highly recommend you pay a visit.
Max and I both love to cook and it’s true what they say—seasonal, organic produce tastes better than non-seasonal produce flown or shipped in refrigerated containers. I love every season at the farmers’ market, and we’re lucky enough to have one that is open year-round (woo-hoo, California). But I’d have to say the summer market is my favorite—juicy heirloom tomatoes, delicate stone fruits and squash blossoms, meaty eggplants and crisp cucumbers. It seems like every week brings something exciting and new—sorely missed after months of root vegetables and bitter greens.
We’ve become very efficient at shopping our farmers' market. We know which stands have the best lettuce, strawberries and citrus, and zig-zag our way through between 8:30-9am, before the market becomes packed with shoppers. After we’ve done our rounds, we treat ourselves to brunch at the food stands—dim sum, tamales, the occasional crepe and a green smoothie if we’re feeling fancy.
One our our favorite things about the farmers' market is that it’s so easy to shop plastic free. Your food has not only traveled a shorter distance (local farm to stand), but you can more easily use your cloth bags and glass jars and return the plastic berries baskets or rubber bands to the farmer so they can reuse them.
Here is a round-up our our favorite zero waste essentials for the farmer’s market:
- Cotton Produce Bags: We bring two kinds of cotton produce bags to the market, muslin for our greens and mesh for loose veggies and fruit. We take about 10 total and transfer most of the bags directly into our fridge crisper drawer when we get home. I like to give the muslin bags a little spritz of water to keep greens crisp.
- Glass Jar: You could use a cotton produce bag for your berries, but I find that they get jammy on the way home and stain everything. A latch-top glass jar is a great solution for transporting berries—you can often hand the cardboard or plastic container back to the vendor to reuse.
- Large Basket or Canvas Tote: For carrying all your goodies. I like something oversized that I can sling over my shoulder and keep my hands free to rummage.
- Stainless Steel Lunchbox: Max and I bring a 2-tier stainless steel lunchbox to the market and each use a tier to grab our lunch. Some of the stands even give us a discount (or extra piece of dim sum!) for bringing our own container.
- Eating Utensils and Cloth Napkin: Because we’re fancy, and need to eat immediately after we shop.
- Stainless Steel Tumbler: I use this to get a smoothie on the way home. It’s insulated and keeps the smoothie nice and cold and my hands dry even when it’s hot outside.
We hope you are enjoying your summer and hitting up the farmers' market. Please leave us a comment and let us know what other essentials you love to bring to the farmers' market for zero waste shopping.