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Be a Farmer's Market Weekend Warrior

Photo: Sustainable Today 1311 Pt4 Portland Farmers Market

My dad always used to say that the only good thing about the good old days is that they were over. And he was right.

Let's take a look at some of the things about the good old days that I can virtually promise you do not miss:

1. Outhouses in particular and lack of plumbing in general.
2. Girdles, stays, petticoats, hoops.
3. Patriarchal property ownership laws.
4. Wagon trains.
5. Homesteading. It's not as romantic as it sounds.

And, needless to say, there were no contact lenses, smart phones, or Netflix streaming. Who would have had the time for that anyway? Check out the steps for running a load of laundry. I found this in my mom's stuff and believe it's authentic, though who knows. Step 1: start a fire in the back yard.


And just like that, I'm lost. Good god! To get clean clothes they had to light a fire. I hate fire! I rarely light a candle. And women back then had to light a fire just to take a bath or wash some underwear. Of course, there was an upside: they weren't using plastic bottles of laundry detergent either. They were using a bar of soap and dumping the used water into the flower beds. At least it was easy on the environment, right? It certainly wasn't easy on the women, or their hands or backs or lives. But there was no plastic.

No, I'm not about to go in some freaky direction here, advocating a tech-free life and washboard Wednesdays. That's not going to happen. However, if you could be easier on the environment without giving up electricity or binge-watching House of Cards, would you be interested? Sure, who wouldn't be? As long as my suggestion is painless. And it is: Go to the farmers market on the weekend instead of the grocery store.

In Portland, some markets are open all winter. I go to Hillsdale, which is open every other week from Thanksgiving until spring, and it's one of the most environmentally friendly things I do. All the produce is local, and there's so much more than produce: coffee, bread, pastry, cheese, mushrooms, sausage, granola, honey, fish. It's crazy. And, with a little effort, you can use negligible to zero packaging to cart all that fresh produce home.

When the berries start arriving in the summer, I buy flats and flats of them. The berries go into glass containers in the freezer for use all winter. The farms take their flats and containers back for re-use. The berries go on desserts, sure, but I primarily use them on Portlandia Granola for breakfast. Portlandia Granola fills my containers for me, so I don't have to use any packaging, and their granola is insanely good. Scratch Meats will do the same with their sausage. If you reject the plastic bags offered for produce at the market, you can leave every time with no packaging. And you won't have to light a fire in the back yard to make a positive environmental impact.

Need a bit more incentive to get you to the market? Here it is: hybrid tomatoes from local growers will be back at the end of the month. They're growing in those hoop things right now. (Try putting the tomatoes straight into a re-usable bag and leaving the containers at the farm stand.) Go to the market (take plenty of reusable bags), and starting getting in on this action. It's fantastic. I bought really beautiful Honey Crisp apples today. And frisée lettuce. Time for a salad. And soon...tomatoes!

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