Food shopping part 1.

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Last week I bought this beautiful wicker basket which makes me feel like Little Red Riding Hood! After weeks and weeks of envying the trolleys and baskets paraded by my french neighbours, I went on a mission to a second-hand furniture warehouse thingy with the sole purpose of finding myself one of those babies. Apart from the obvious aesthetic reasons, I can vouch for the fact that my basket has made market shopping WAY better. I used to carry a couple of totes, meaning I would be constantly unhooking the straps off my shoulders and trying to organise the produce so none of it would be squashed by anything heavier. It was doable but complicated, and I could never find all my produce bags! I now feel like I have my system sorted, so without further ado… Here’s how I shop zero waste at the weekly farmers’ market in Rennes, France!

Firstly, it’s all about preparation. On Fridays, the day before market day, I plan all the meals I want to make for the week. From that list I make another list (I like lists, guys) of things I need to buy for those meals. The second part of the preparation involves lining my basket with a tea towel and filling it with mesh bags for produce, and any other containers needed. The above image shows what I took yesterday; aside from the mesh bags, I took a paper bag for dates (they’re so sticky!) and a jar for olives.

When I get to the market, I work my way through my shopping list being sure to specify ‘no bag please’ (‘sans sac s’il vous plait’) as many vendors provide paper or plastic bags and automatically fill them when you order. It took me a while to have the courage and foresight to master this, but I’m a pro now! If you ever do end up receiving something in a bag you didn’t want (happens to the best of us), just immediately empty the contents into your bag/basket and give it back to the vendor, they’re fine with it. Larger fruit and veg like broccoli, sweet potatoes and bananas I generally tend to put straight in my bag/basket loose, whereas I use my mesh bags for tomatoes, green beans, mushrooms etc. to keep them together and protected a bit. The people at the olive stand are more than happy to weigh my jar and subtract it from the end price, but before this I used to bring back the plastic container they provided me with the first time to reuse.

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Clockwise from top let: green beans (in bag), potatoes (in bag), tomatoes (in bag), carrots, kale, lettuce, broccoli

Contrary to my fears when I began to shop package-free, I’ve found market vendors to react positively to my bags (or at least indifferent, which is also fine by me!), in fact I’ve received more compliments from them than anyone else! Also, getting home and storing my purchases before returning the bags back to their place and not being left with a load of plastic is a sweet satisfaction. This week I treated myself to fresh apple juice which comes in a glass bottle that I reuse to store my rice, pasta, grains etc.

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my rather adorable bounty

As for non fruit and veg groceries, I do a second small shop on Mondays at a package-free supermarket which I will explain next week. Until then folks!

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