It’s been a long time, sorry! The grocery shopping at Lemon Street Market and Central Market has become pretty easy. It’s almost second nature to bring containers for everything that we are going to need. Some interesting items have come up though.
We need new sheets for our bed as ours are falling apart. As far as we can tell you can’t buy sheets without them coming in that big plastic wrapper. Apart from getting them used, I think we might have to make them. For now we are making do with using some sheets that don’t quite fit our bed – a flat sheet instead of a fitted sheet, etc. If you’ve ever tried that, you know that it sort of works, but can be annoying. Pretty soon I’m going to actually do some sewing and try to fashion something that actually clings to the bed. The funny thing is that I remember my dad fashioning some crazy thing like that when I was little and I thought he was crazy and I thought I would never do anything so silly when one could just go out and buy sheets.
We knew that the time would come when we had to make choices about our health and the health of our children, and we promised not to sacrifice anybody’s health to our game. When the girls needed new toothbrush heads for their electric toothbrushes, I bought them. We have too many cavity issues to revert to regular brushes. One small victory, however, is that the dentist recommended disclosing tablets so we could see where the plaque was after they brushed. I found a distributor of disclosing tablets that packs them in cellophane, not plastic. 100% biodegradable! I also got diagnosed with a vitamin-D deficiency and the one they wanted me to take came in INDIVIDUALLY wrapped plastic packets. Sheesh. Anyway, I bought them.
I had an amusing call from the local newspaper. They said, “We’d like to get you back on our regular delivery. We have a special deal for you…..” I let her finish and then I said, “We’ll start back up just as soon as you can deliver them in something other than plastic.” There was a pause while she came to terms with the fact that this excuse was nowhere on her script. She responded, “That’s the only way we do it!” And I said, “Okay, well, as soon as you figure out another way, call me back!” And I hung up. My uncle just pointed out that we should see if we can make a newspaper delivery box like people used to have (and maybe still do?). Then we could assure them that even if it were delivered without a bag that it would still stay dry. I think I actually like not getting the paper, so this might not be one I push on.
I also would like to admit that I haven’t managed to not consume plastic when I travel on business. Next business trip I go on (May 2) I’m going to try to not consume/use/purchase plastic the whole trip. I’ll have to bring my own mug for Starbucks, not get any Kind bars there either, not have a drink on the plane, and not order any food to take-out.
Central Market in downtown Lancaster is key for us if we are going to go zero-plastic-influx. The produce stands not only provide unpackaged produce, but for you locovores out there, there are also some producers. Earl Groff and his wife provide veggis year-round, the Barr boys always have some of their own stuff, the Stoners rock some local veggis, Mrs. Thomas’ applesauce is wonderful, Lancaster Farm Fresh is on the scene, Ben Weiss (grower of the absolutely most fantastic squash ever to be grown on planet earth) is over near the NE corner should you wonder, and there are local meats aplenty amidst a smattering of locally produced processed foods and goods. The place seriously rocks the East Coast.
During a conversation with the Market Master, Jessica Mailhot, the topic of her plans for Market came up. Her goal is to make Lancaster’s Central Market a go-to destination not only for visiters to Lancaster County, the home of Amish and smorgasbords, but for visiters to the East Coast in general. I don’t think that goal is unrealistic. Market is awesome. It has everything (including Amish quilts from China – made by Chinese Amish and sold by Lancaster Amish). And it is a seriously important part of Lancaster’s social fabric. Sure, you can get some of the best produce in the world (if you know which stands to go to), but you can also see all of your neighbors and make connections with some wonderful people.
Make no mistake, folks who visit see that. They see the regulars go belly-up to the meat cooler or produce stand or spice rack. They hear us greet standholders by name. They wait while we talk about all sorts of things. They wonder what this place is. Then they buy a whoopie pie, and wonder what the hell is going on in this small town in Central Pennsylvania that is leaving the Amish and Lincoln Highway behind. Tot ziens! (It’s on purpose.)
The image at right represents the take from yesterday morning’s trip to Central Market in Lancaster, PA. It being the day before we started our move to zero-plastic-influx, I decided that I wasn’t going to worry about the plastic deal. I would buy as normal and take note of what plastic packing materials my items came with and make adjustments for future visits. Sure, that’s a pretty lame justification for being lazy, but that’s what I did.
The rings/caps on the milk bottles excepted, all of the plastic I came home with could have been eliminated with a little bit of planning. Reusable containers and cloth bags could have easily been used to package the spinach, meat sticks, sandwich meat, hot dogs and rice. The carrots left the market in a plastic bag that I provided, but cloth would have worked in that case, too. The prepackaged hummus situation could have been resolved by pre-arranging with the producer.
Other than not drinking the stuff, I don’t really see a way around the milk issue – I suppose I could buy milk in a paper carton, but we have been buying raw milk lately and this only comes in glass or plastic jars/jugs. In fact, Green Circle Organics at Market was out of raw in glass (supplier was taking a break over the holidays?) and I needed to go to Mapplehoff for milk in glass (2%, conventionally grown, no growth hormones).
The pre-packaged nature of the humous brings up a couple of things. First of all, this is something that I can make myself (everyone can) and plastic use in this case can be addressed through a DIY approach. Another solution would be to contact the producer and make arrangements to have her pack her humous in my container at the time of production. Since many vendors, this one included, at market are the producers, this would have been no problem. It only takes a bit of planning. Ahh…. planning. Something tells me this will come up a lot over the course of the year (and beyond?).
While it all may take a bit of planning, I will say that we are pretty damn lucky to be embarking on this journey within spitting distance of Central Market, Lemon Street Market and Expressly Local Foods. Each are small operations that deal in bulk foods, have a variety of organic goods on offer and do an excellent job of sourcing local.
Stay with us! More to come!
So the morning after we decided all this happened to be our daughters’ 7th birthday. I woke up and went to Giant for a few supplies. I got birthday candles (plastic window on the cardboard box), wrapping paper (plastic wrapper), 2 pairs of gloves for the girls (held together by a plastic tag), tortillas (in plastic bag), and taco-mix (in plasticized envelope). So I’m batting 1000 so far. I finally thought of something today that wouldn’t be hard. Spices – our spice-guy Jim at market will think it’s just peachy to sell us spices in paper bags, or in containers that we bring to him. I think basically anything we buy from someone we know is going to work out. Interesting how that works.