By Leah Larsen
The Local Food Experience has changed our lives in ways beyond food. Because food is such a large part of our lives, stopping three times a day to nourish ourselves or at least 5 times if you have kids, it makes sense that a change in what we eat will change other aspects of our lives too.
We are grateful for the change in reduced packaging and plastics in our lives. Last month, on a trip to visit family in Susanville, we took a truckload of plastics to the recycling center. We regained a corner of the garage that will hopefully not fill up with plastic again for a really long time. Most of it was clamshells, yogurt containers, milk jugs, tofu and mushroom containers, and olive oil jugs. Those are all now gone from our life and it is a wonderful feeling!
Most of our storage is now in glass. All our dairy is stored in glass jars that we wash and reuse. Nothing new or different from life as recently as the 1950’s. Waxed milk cartons and plastic milk jugs replaced glass bottles around 1960.
We still store our produce in plastic bags, but we do wash and reuse those as many times as they will stand. Washing and reusing plastic bags has always been a practice of mine and a point of conversation for my college friends who couldn’t believe I washed plastic bags. My dedication to this practice was solidified when Brian built me a plastic bag drying rack for our 10th anniversary with 10 wooden rings, one for each year of marriage, with dowels coming out to hang bags. It was the best present ever.
As vegetable producers, we use new plastic bags to sell products to the public. Every Friday as we process and bag our produce, the plastic bags fly off the roll. I wish there was a good alternative to keeping produce fresh. We did try the biodegradable bags last year but heard from customers that the produce did not last or that it got rubbery. This made me curious, what was produce wrapped in 70 years ago?
With a quick internet search, it looks like it was unwrapped or wrapped in paper. Of course, this would not keep produce as fresh for a longer period which would require seasonal eating, eating local produce, shopping frequently, and preserving for winter. Hmm, this has brought me right back to LFX! Not only is Local Food Year about eating local it is also about reducing plastic use and waste. That seems important when at least eight million tons of plastic are dumped into the ocean each year, the equivalent of one garbage truck per minute.
What would you think of a salad mix wrapped in paper? You would probably have to eat it within a day or two or take it home and place it in your own plastic bag. One thing we hear frequently from our customers is that our salad holds in the fridge for so long and they like that. Is that something we should forgo? I wonder when we will make the switch as producers to no more plastic. It is a big change but obviously doable as it was just 70 years ago.