Saturday, December 11, 2010

It's Precautionary

Here in our city we have a local farmer's market that runs annually from mid April to the end of October. During those months we get about 90% of our produce from 3 or 4 of the certified organic farmers that sell there weekly. We also buy local made chocolates, pot scrubbers, and some baked goods as well as the occasional cat treat. Another item we buy almost exclusively from the market is honey. The past 2 years we bought our honey from a local elderly gentleman who had his apiary just a few kilometers from our home. He was quite a character and you could always count on an amusing conversation while you picked out your honey that had been sealed into funky glass jars. Unfortunately this wonderful man passed away this year before the market started up and apparently had no family interested in taking over the business. So the little honey stall was no more. I was most upset by this. But luckily for us, there is another apiary that sells their honey at our beloved market, and we soon got to know these people just as well. We bought a few small jars of honey throughout the market year from them, and at the very last market of the season bought a large one litre jar of the delectable sweet to hopefully carry us through until spring. Now I love honey. I put in my tea, use it in baking, and just enjoy a little teaspoon to eat from now and then. And since discovering the horrors of Genetically Modified Foods and developed a hatred for all things corn, I use in place of corn syrup for certain recipes, namely butter tarts for Christmas baking.

Well, I recently made a double batch of said tarts, putting a significant dent in our honey supply. But to my great surprise, the farmer's market recently announced they would be holding an indoor "mini market" today. We decided to check it our this morning to see what was available, secretly hoping for honey. I was in luck. The same stand that I had perused the shiny jars all summer long was smack dab in the middle of the market. But no familiar face behind the table, it was two young women I had never seen before. So I beelined (oh I know, bad) to the table and picked out another one litre jar of my favorite, clover. I greeted the girl, and said I would like to take one jar, and went for my wallet. Out of the corner of my eye I see her tear off a little plastic bag, preparing to place my beloved plastic free jar into this bag. Now I am accustomed to immediately refuse plastic bags in any large grocery store (I only use reusable, cloth bags for both my produce and larger groceries), but I was thrown off by this at a farmer's market. These people are supposed to be my comrades in this battle against plastic. But apparently she didn't get the memo. This is how the rest panned out:
Me: "Oh no, I don't need a bag"
Her:"Oh, it's precautionary"
Me: "What?"
Her: " We provide bags as a precaution, in case it spills"
Me: "Oh, no that's fine, I brought my own cloth bag" (pointing at wonderful partner holding up said bag with confused look on his face)
Her: "Well, in my experience, if any honey drips out of the bag, it will take two or three washes to get it out, so we provide bags." She continues to place my jar in the bag.
Me: "Well, I REALLY don't want a plastic bag."
Partner: "We've bought honey from you guys many times before, and we have never been offered a bag, and never needed one. The jars are sealed."
Her: "But they're precautionary."
Me:"Yes, we still don't want one.We'll take the chance."
Her: "Fine". Gives me look like I am completely crazy for risking getting honey all over bag, myself, and anything else we might come in contact with. 

I was infuriated! Farmer's markets are supposed to be environmentally friendly, and a place where I can find others who are sympathetic with my green views. I basically had to rip the honey out of her hand in order for me not to have yet another plastic bag shoved down my throat.  I really feel like we are alone in this plight sometimes, and that is why I love going to these markets. They are refreshingly waste free, and I never get the "look" when I bring my cloth bags. It is very rare for a local farmer to offer me a bag, it is expected that you bring your own. And I love that! I don't know if these girls working at the table are family members, or hired help, but I almost feel like complaining to the apiary owner in the spring about this ridiculous policy they suddenly have. I have never had a single drop of honey drip out of any of their jars, because they are sealed! And it wasn't just the bag itself, it was her attitude, and how she was not going to accept my refusal without an argument. She clearly has no idea the environmental impact that plastic bags have on our Earth, and has no sense of unnecessary waste. Ugh. Mother Nature is down one today. I shudder to think how many jars of honey wrapped in horrible plastic were sold today. What do you think? How do you try and reduce your plastic waste? Do you come across people trying to force you into getting bags? I'd like to get some of your views on this, and any advice on how to deal with people like her in a calm and dignified manner, while hopefully avoiding "the look". Thank you in advance!



  1. "Precautionary"?!! I've not yet heard THAT excuse for trying to foist a plastic bag on unsuspecting shoppers!
    But I always take one cloth and one plastic bag with me to markets and shops - the plastic bag gets very crumpled and thin with re-use, but it's really useful if you get something frozen/greasy so you can keep it separate from other foodstuffs - so the flour in the paper bag doesn't get all soggy, and so on! And then you can wave it in the honey-sellers faces and look smug (or maybe not..) :)
    I'm so glad I stumbled on to your blog - it looks and reads great. And I'm definately going to try and get hold of 'Animal, Vegetable, Miracle'...

    all the best, Jafion

  2. Thank you for the encouragement Jafion! It makes me feel so much better when I know that there are other conscious people out there, I just have to keep my eyes open!


  3. I'm so pleased we live in a forward thinking state (in Australia) - plastic bags were banned in May last year. You have to remember to bring your own green bags but its so nice to not see plastic bags blowing in the streets anymore!
    Also, you clearly didn't want a bag, why was she so pushy?!