No Plastic Edibles
Jo Robinson, the author of Eating on the Wild Side, has a site called EatWild. On the site you can go here and put your zip code in to find farms and ranches near you. Their products include: Beef, Pork, Lamb, Veal, Goat, Elk, Venison, Yak, Chickens, Ducks, Rabbits, Turkeys, Eggs, Milk, Cheeses, Wild-Caught Salmon and more.
If the farms are really small, you will likely get the meats frozen and in plastic but you could potentially also get a whole animal (like a goat or a lamb) fresh, have a party, cook it in a pit or on open fire and then eat what you eat and freeze the rest of the cooked meat in smaller non plastic containers. Cooked meat doesn't last as long as raw meat in the freezer (Cooked meat 3-4 months, raw meet 6-12 months). As long as you share with others, this is a good system. Otherwise if you'll have to eat a lot of meat at a time if you want to get it from a small farm and you want it fresh without any plastic.
Some farms that make cheese deliver. I personally again would look at how much plastic they come in. If they wrap in paper and I mean just paper not paper with a plastic lining, but wax paper, then great. If the paper has a plastic lining take your clean cloth to wrap your cheese in, or your beeswax wrap - See previous No Plastic Kitchen Posts (Day 7 & 8) for more info.
Egg Cartons - Most places don't use styrofoam egg cartons anymore but if you decide you don't want to have more waste regardless of what it is, you can always go to a farm and put the eggs directly into your egg carton OR you can leave the one you picked up a week ago and grab a new one.
CSA - Community Supported Agriculture
This is a great way to meet your farmers, learn about their practices and to eat fresh produce (and sometimes even pick your own vegetables). Usually the way it works is you pay the farmer in the winter or spring when they don't have an income, to help them prepare for the up coming season. You pay according to the share you want. Most farms offer half a share, and a full share. You'll find out what a half or full share entails when you sign up - example: half share might feed 2 people for 1 week versus a full share 4 people.
Another great thing about CSAs is that some will ask if you'd like to purchases a case of tomatoes or strawberries when they have way more than they can sell - it will go bad sooner than they can sell it. You can purchase a case at a much lower cost, go home and either can or cook the fruit or the vegetable down, store in glass ball jars, label and freeze. More information on this go to on Day 7 and 8 of NPA blog postings.
Some farms also will let you pick your own fruits, vegetables, or even flowers. I prefer to do this at an organic farm where they don't use synthetic (petroleum based) pesticides, but you if you aren't worried about exposing yourself or your family to toxic chemicals then any farm will do. You can find a CSA near you on Local Harvest. You can also go on Facebook and make a post about CSAs in your area and see what farms your friends use and love. If you live in a big city, don't assume there aren't any CSAs near you. I was a part of both a summer/fall CSA and a winter CSA in New York City - winter CSAs aren't super common. You can also volunteer at some of these farms for a reduced share cost.
In terms of plastic - if you shop at a grocery store you are likely to bring plastic tags home with you. When you are a part of a CSA the most you get is a rubber band. If you don't want to use it or take it home, return them back to the farmers.
The less plastic also works for most things you get at a Farmer's Market. Now a days some fruit comes in plastic at the farmer's market - like cherries. I either ask them if it's okay for me to put it straight into my own bag (and if they'll reuse what I won't be taking home) or I'll pass on that item. When you buy in cases you don't have the plastic problem and you can return the case. Always ask, never assume they will say "No take it with the plastic, we won't reuse it".
Here are a few different sites where you can find farmer's markets near you;
VitaCost and other online stores
Here's why I like VitaCost - They have great customer service, their site is easy to navigate, the items they sell are usually cheaper than what you'd find in a grocery store and if you purchase more than $50 worth of stuff, they ship for free. But MOST importantly, the reason why I like using them is because they have tomato sauce, strained tomatoes and tomato paste in glass jars. They also wrap their stuff in paper not plastic, though some items also come in a plastic ziplock bag. You can put in the instructions and ask them to not do that.
Tomatoes are highly acidic. If there's only ONE food you don't want to buy in a can, it's tomatoes. Here is a little something something to read about canned tomatoes.
For other resources (books, movies, other sites) you can go here.
If you decided to do the No Plastic April challenge because you'd like to lead a less wasteful life and eat "clean" foods, then I highly recommend finding an Organic CSA near by. Also for animal products its of course important that they are also organic but to me what feels more important is that the animal is pasture raised. When you're going through the lists of farms, do a little extra digging to see what kind of farming practices they use. If you don't understand what it means, do a little research on it and see if that's something you'd like to support or stay away from. The closer to "natural" or wild we can get, the better for our and the planet's health. I also suggest everyone at one point in their lives to go and work/volunteer at a farm for a few months or at least a full week. When you see how much time, energy, sweat, planning and physical work go into growing and harvesting our food, you might think twice about wasting it.
Up Next: No Plastic Gardening