I may look like a complete weirdo as I carefully transfer berries from plastic boxes to my jars but I’m pretty much okay with that. I don’t want to be normal in this throwaway society.
Your area’s silly food laws may vary
Here is the deal on the little plastic boxes for strawberries at my farmers’ market in Palo Alto, California.
If I (gently) dump the berries into a produce bag or a jar and return the baskets to the vendor while I’m at the booth, the vendor can reuse them. If I take them home and later return them, the vendor can’t reuse them unless they first steam them with a very expensive piece of equipment that no one owns.
The thinking behind this law is that the baskets become contaminated in our homes. So, if I return them to the vendor after bringing them home, they will recycle them, which is often more like wish-cycling. The China ban on taking our trash—and why should China take it?—has exposed this. Much of our plastic has never been recycled an now much of it goes to landfill, according to this investigative piece in The Guardian.
The vendors who sell eggs are also not supposed to reused cartons customers return but some do. It’s a little bit ridiculous that manufacturers can make all of this stuff with no rules to clean up after themselves but we have silly food laws that won’t allow us to return a basket or in some areas, fill up a jar with bulk food. These laws—like our society—need a complete overhaul.
My berry shopping equipment
I bring my jars to the farmers’ market in my beloved jar bag, handmade by A Tiny Forest. This is not a sponsored blog post. I simply love my bag and every time I post it, many people ask me where they can get one. If you sew, you can buy the pattern for the bag. One day, I will make one!
I may look like a complete weirdo as I carefully transfer berries from plastic boxes to my jars but I’m pretty much okay with that. I don’t want to be normal in this throwaway society. After I transfer the berries to my jars, I can return the baskets and know they will be reused, with the added bonus of keeping my berries intact and preventing them from transforming into jam on the way home.
The print above made me think of the pattern below…
How to freeze fruit without rendering giant frozen blobs
When I get home, I freeze some of these. I fill one or two of the jars with water, swish around the berries, clean them, cut them in half, spread them on a cookie sheet, freeze them, then transfer them back to that jar I brought them home in and put that in the freezer. This reduces the number of dishes I have to wash.
By freezing the berries spread out on a cookie sheet, I end up with individually frozen berries rather than a giant frozen lump. You can freeze all sorts of food in glass jars. Say you have leftover soup you won’t eat this week. Put it in the freezer. Keep it there for a few days, a few weeks or longer. Go here for more on freezing food without plastic.
Yes, I realize that freezers aren’t the most environmentally friendly appliances but most people who live indoors in the US use a refrigerator and built-in freezer. I one day dream of living without one. Yes, I know I dream big…
An empty freezer uses as much energy as a full one. Unless you put very hot food in there. Then the freezer will initially consume more energy to cool that hot food. Refrigerator and freezer efficiency is a post for another day…
Squirreling away plastic-free frozen fruit for the winter
The small amounts of fruit I freeze don’t last long—a few weeks maximum. If you have a chest freezer and want to freeze large amounts of fruit to last several months, look for a U-Pick Farm. You’ll reduce packaging waste, save money and have fun!