A Trip to the Farmers Market and Thoughts on Food Waste

One of the things I miss most when we are in our little Alaskan home is going to farmers markets. Fresh fruits and veggies are extremely hard to get for us during those 9 months out of the year, so I was super excited at the prospect of stuffing myself full of fresh foods over the next 10 weeks of traveling through the lower 48 states. To get my fill of fresh produce, one day this week I headed out to the Holland Farmers Market  in Holland, Michigan with my family.

I love going to farmers markets because supporting local farmers and businesses is important to me. Plus, I always feel a bit of a pull to the lifestyle that comes with farmers markets. You see, I was raised in a farming community. My family owns farmland, and I spent a good portion of my childhood staring out the window at cornfields. My mom has also always been a serious gardener and I’ve spent countless hours watching her grow produce. Homegrown food has always been a part of my life, which is why I think I feel this connection and desire to support those who put in the laborious efforts associated with it.

When I stop and think about the amount of labor that goes into producing the items I see at a farmers market, I can’t help but think about food waste. This was a hot topic in my mind as I strolled through the rows and rows of vendors. At one booth we stopped for homemade bread. The woman and her husband at the bread booth had at least one hundred loaves, of all types and varieties. She casually mentioned that her husband is a baker and makes them all. I was astounded! I make one or two loaves a week for our home in Alaska, but it is hard to fathom the time and energy that must go into making hundreds of loaves.

This got me thinking that I needed to make sure that I was mindful of how we would be using our purchased goods throughout the next week or so. We walked away with one loaf of bread, 1lb of asparagus, half of a watermelon, 1qt of strawberries, and one jar of jelly. The asparagus was cooked up promptly for our Saturday dinner, while the watermelon was chopped up and snacked on after a long day of swimming. Obviously, with the house full of people I’m currently residing with, many of the items we buy will get used up. But what about the things that don’t?

With this in mind, I started writing a list of ideas of what I could do with the leftovers. For example, for the strawberries I thought about making strawberry shortcake, strawberry & banana smoothies, or sangria. For the jelly I thought about making toast for breakfast, mixing it with cream cheese on crackers, or topping a fillet of salmon with it (it was lemon and rosemary – PERFECT for fish). I found that making a list of ways to use up the things we bought was helpful because it forced me to do some planning. I’m thinking about incorporating something like this into my weekly meal planning routine when we are back in the village. Perhaps this will help me stay accountable and not throw out so much food. Hopefully, the list will be helpful and I can start to become more conscience of what we throw away versus what we eat.