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Hannah Semler, founder of food system consulting, Whole Crops, and co-founder of online farmers market, FarmDrop, guides her work with a simple message: respect. "An equitable food system has to start with respect for people and respect for nature." Semler is trying to change the story of food from production to consumption through better integrating collaborative supply chains with "food education, sharing economies, and social impact opportunities" that will lead to no waste and less loss.
According to the UN Environment Program, up to 5 trillion single-use plastic bags are used globally each year, and because of the material they're made from, most municipal recycling centers don't accept them (more on this below).
The most sustainable option is to skip the bag altogether. You can also make your own reusable produce bags out of old T-shirts. But if you'd rather purchase them new, here are our recommendations for the best reusable produce bags on the market today.
Eco Joy<p>If you're making the switch to more sustainable shopping bags and want a variety of products to use, the <a href="https://www.amazon.com/Reusable-Sandwich-Biodegradable-Eco-Drawstring/dp/B003PK4W3I/ref=sr_1_36?crid=3TDUCB8ZOM7WI&dchild=1&keywords=produce+bags+grocery+reusable&qid=1613484643&sprefix=produce+bags%2Caps%2C189&sr=8-36" target="_blank">Eco Joy Cotton Reusable Produce Bags</a> set is a great place to start. The set comes with three mesh drawstring bags, three muslin drawstring bags, a large mesh tote and a zippered sandwich-size pouch.</p><p>Each product is made with organic, non-GMO cotton that's ethically sourced in accordance with Worldwide Responsible Accredited Production (WRAP) standards. The cotton comes from India and Turkey, and the bags are hand-assembled in Canada by the owner of Eco Joy, so you can feel good about supporting a small business while reducing your environmental impact.</p><p><strong>Customer rating:</strong> 4.7 out of 5 stars with over 300 Amazon reviews</p><p><strong>Why buy: </strong>Zero-waste; Handmade in Canada; WRAP compliant; Machine washable</p>
Organic Cotton Mart<p>Some shoppers prefer to use mesh bags when shopping for fruits and veggies. We recommend checking out <a href="https://www.amazon.com/Best-Reusable-Produce-Organic-Cotton/dp/B07CK2TJKL/ref=sr_1_16?crid=10A7NM0LQ0B7E&dchild=1&keywords=mesh+produce+bags&qid=1613483897&s=home-garden&sprefix=mesh+pro%2Cgarden%2C162&sr=1-16" target="_blank">Organic Cotton Mart's Reusable Cotton Mesh Produce Bags</a> if you're in this camp, as they're made with Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) certified cotton.</p> <p>Mesh reusable produce bags can make the checkout process easier than muslin bags since you can see what's inside them without having to open them up. Plus, the tare weight (i.e., the weight of the empty bag that should be subtracted from the total weight of your produce to make sure you don't pay extra for using your bag) is printed right on the label of Organic Cotton Mart's bags, making everything that much more convenient.</p> <p><strong>Customer rating:</strong> 4.6 out of 5 stars with nearly 1,000 Amazon reviews</p><strong>Why buy:</strong> GOTS certified; Machine washable; Biodegradable
Simple Ecology<p>On the other hand, if you just want to purchase muslin bags, we like <a href="https://www.amazon.com/Simple-Ecology-Reusable-Organic-Shopping/dp/B004UJ0U0C" target="_blank">Simple Ecology's Reusable Produce Bags</a>, which are also made with GOTS-certified organic cotton. Simple Ecology also has a <a href="https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01N6AUMBG/ref=sspa_dk_detail_2?psc=1&pd_rd_i=B01N6AUMBG&pd_rd_w=MA3ZS&pf_rd_p=cbc856ed-1371-4f23-b89d-d3fb30edf66d&pd_rd_wg=hVunQ&pf_rd_r=G6RTQ1Z5DKEY325MAJZ9&pd_rd_r=5d298b3a-1be7-4ebd-a9e1-d5d672a40497&spLa=ZW5jcnlwdGVkUXVhbGlmaWVyPUExMzc4RVAxWjNLOTdCJmVuY3J5cHRlZElkPUEwNTc0NTAwMzBDMjFYOVJPTUpWSCZlbmNyeXB0ZWRBZElkPUEwNjYyOTM4M0s4Vk81SVBPS1NFSyZ3aWRnZXROYW1lPXNwX2RldGFpbF90aGVtYXRpYyZhY3Rpb249Y2xpY2tSZWRpcmVjdCZkb05vdExvZ0NsaWNrPXRydWU=" target="_blank">starter kit</a> that comes with several reusable grocery bags if you're looking for more variety.</p> <p>The benefit of using muslin reusable produce bags is that, unlike mesh, there are no holes for small items to slip through. This means that in addition to larger produce, you can use them to purchase bulk foods like lentils, beans and rice — or even powders like flour or spices — without worrying about anything leaking. They're also best for keeping leafy greens fresh.</p> <p><strong>Customer rating:</strong> 4.7 out of 5 stars with nearly 1,500 Amazon reviews</p><strong>Why buy:</strong> GOTS certified; Machine washable; Biodegradable; Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI) certified packaging when purchased from manufacturer
ECOBAGS<p>Whether you're buying bread, fresh flowers, produce or all of the above, the <a href="https://www.amazon.com/ECOBAGS-Market-Collection-Reusable-Natural/dp/B08KFGPGN5" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">ECOBAGS Market Collection Reusable Bag Set</a> is ideal for <a href="https://www.ecowatch.com/farmers-markets-coronavirus-safety-2645581711.html" target="_self">farmers market</a> shopping or large grocery hauls. The netted bags are durable, flexible, and pack down small so they're easy to keep in your car or purse.</p> <p>ECOBAGS is a woman-owned certified B Corp, which means it uses sound social and environmental practices. These bags come in packs of three or five and have a few different handle lengths and color options, but they're all made with GOTS-certified organic cotton.</p> <p><strong>Customer rating: </strong>Not applicable</p><p><strong>Why buy:</strong> GOTS certified; Machine washable; Biodegradable; Certified B Corp; SA8000 certified for the protection of basic human rights of workers</p>
By Joshua T. Beck and Brandon Reich
As residents of idyllic Eugene, Oregon, with its culture of local food, we might be forgiven for assuming all Americans are "locavores."
by Donita Anderson
North Union Farmers Market carries on the traditions of the North Union Shakers by championing local foods and operating authentic, certified, producer-only farmers markets. The market offers programming that teaches consumers about the taste and health benefits of eating fresh and locally grown seasonal produce, improves the regional economy by creating vibrant community spaces, and enhances the environment and economy by enabling small farms to sell directly to consumers.
In 2011, there were more than 95 farmers, 40 artisans and 50 food purveyors that participated in the six markets run by the North Union Farmers Market. North Union has incubated more than 300 small businesses in Northeast Ohio since its inception in 1995.
More than ten years ago it became clear that our dedicated shoppers were craving local farm products in the winter months and local farms were beginning to store their abundance and produce from hoophouse operations, greenhouses and high tunnels year round and needed an outlet for their products. This was the beginning of the North Union’s Indoor Winter Farmer’s Market at Shaker Square in Cleveland.
Fortunately, several other important factors came together to make this indoor market a reality. The developer/ owner of Shaker Square provided the market space to use. A large enough group of farmers agreed to participate and drive to the market through winter’s unpredictable and sometimes wild weather conditions. And, through a survey to our customers, we were confident that the farms would “sell the whole truckload” if there was a winter market.
In 2011, farmers encountered huge challenges with record rains in Northeast Ohio that broke the 1871 record of 78.5 inches of rain in one year. Many of the farms in our program lost acres of crops and couldn’t attend markets. Farms that were starting for the first time this year just dropped out, because they didn’t have the ability to control the damage from the tumult of rain, hail and tornadoes.
We were fearful we wouldn’t have enough product to have the Indoor Winter Farmers Market in 2012. Luckily many of the farms were able to plant late crops and grow for this market to hopefully recoup losses from the 2011 season. We are extremely happy with the farm participation and shopper turnout so far this season, and hopeful even more people will come out this winter to buy our farm fresh products.
Throughout the three months of the winter market, 30 farms will be represented. The winter market is doing so well that in 2013 we will have a winter market on the west side of Cleveland as well.
At the winter market you can find more than 12 different types of dried beans, Gold Rush apples along with six other varieties, delicata squash, acorn squash, hubbard squashes, artisan goat and sheeps milk cheeses, butter, unhomogenized milk, broccoli, cucumbers, zucchini, turnips, beets, lettuces, tatsoi, carrots, onions, garlic, potatoes, spinach, kale, mushrooms, sunchokes, herbs, eggs, grassfed beef, pasture raised pork, lamb, free range chickens, along with local foods, bakeries and artists.
This market is not only a great way to access local farm fresh foods in the winter, but it is a gathering place that has a direct effect on the local retail district of Shaker Square. Deweys Coffee Cafe is packed with shoppers sipping hot beverages and noshing on baked goods and popcorn. CVS employees say it’s the busiest time of the week for their store. The local restaurant Yours Truly is filled with market shoppers. Farmers markets are an excellent way to help establish economic vitality to local areas.
Winter farmers markets create stronger farms by helping farmers make mortgage payments in the winter, having more dollars to invest in their business and keeping the relationship with their customers going all year round.
Be sure to experience this community building indoor farmers market every Saturday until March 24 from 9 a.m. to noon in the two storefront spaces between Deweys Coffee Cafe and CVS on the Northeast quadrant of Shaker Square.
For more information, click here.