It is really tough to buck the system, even at Whole Foods!
First, I went to the Whole Foods bread counter with my lovely new cloth bread bag (purchased AT Whole Foods) and the girl behind the counter said that she had to put the bread in a plastic bag first because otherwise she'd have nowhere to put the price sticker!!!! So I had to push her to put the sticker on the string on the bag, but she ended up putting it on a small piece of wax(?) pastry paper.
Next I went to the butcher counter and asked whether anyone ever used their own containers to shop and the butcher, as I expected, said that they hadn't. He also told me that in NYS he is not permitted to sell that way! I was so disappointed, since I am very inspired by the Johnson family, and have made quite a few changes over the last few days, taking my desire for a simpler way of living to a new level. I plan to call the NYS Department of Agriculture on Monday to find out if this is true, though I do trust the butcher at Whole Foods. Does anyone have any thoughts on this? Is there any way to get around this?
Did you try to purchase cheese there, too? I have yet to do so and will avoid WF if I can. As I'm phasing out my nonzero-waste stuff, I'm switching over. I also wonder if there aren't local places or small butchers you could try instead? (I don't buy meat, so I'm not sure what options there are). I thought someone else on this board mentioned halal butchers? I'm thinking if my store won't allow me to "bag" cheese and bread my own way, to go to local venues (there are two local bread bakeries and cheese emporium in my neighborhood). I know once the local farmers market here opens in May, I shouldn't have problems with this.
I had the exact same thing (price sticker on wax paper and all) happen to me the first time I purchased bread at WF using one of their bread bags. Fortunately, this happened only once and I have since not had a problem. I suspect it just took some time for employees to adjust and learn the new bread bag policy.
It is definitely a good idea to find out what the food handling regulations are in your state. According to the customer service person I spoke to, Whole Foods allows each store to determine their own 'bring your own bag/container" policy because the regulations vary by state. At the store I shop at, for instance, I cannot bring my own container to purchase items at the salad and hot foods bar due to strict guidelines, but cloth bags are okay for bread, produce and dry bulk items. I have had better luck purchasing meat with my own containers through smaller, local vendors, but now I wonder if this is because they are not as careful about following food handling regulations as WF is.
I'm interested in hearing what you learned from the NYS Dept. of Agriculture. Did they say anything different?
Has anyone thought of any other way to get purchased meats "packaged" than the jars? I understand Bea's aesthetic, but if you weren't going for coordinated glassware, what could you use? A tin? Ideas?
I easily talked a butcher today into just wrapping our meat in paper -no plastic bag- but obviously that paper's now single use heading for the compost. Before I could stop him, he taped it shut, though. Oops.
I emailed the managaer of my store (link on the whole foods home page for your store) before I went shopping and asked about bringing my own containers and how to do it. He emailed me back that it was okay and how to go about weighing my containers and such. It helps to have the email with the managers name on it to get the employees to cooperate a little better.
I was wondering about this, too. I have yet to find a jar that will fit an entire fish or pork shoulder, let alone a Thanksgiving turkey. Last year I purchased a turkey breast and transported it in my own covered roasting pan. I guess the two criteria I would consider are that the container be leakproof and see-through, so the cashier will not try to open the container and spray their checkout counter with meat juices.
I had asked at my local supermkt about NOT bagging their packages of [leaky] meat for checkout, and though they said it's okay, in the same breath they talked about the contamination factor.
I'm contemplating bringing a big pot or something and use that to move meats from counter to checkout, then from checkout to home. Will I feel stupid or what?
How about saying you are participating in a zero waste challenge - like who can have the least amount of trash in a week/month/year? Better yet - create said challenge so it will the truth (Myself, I'm a lousy liar. :-) ) and so it can also be a way to educate others on the idea of zero waste. :-)
I bring old plastic bags from other items I buy like packaged shelled peanuts (which are very hard to find in bulk) and then slid my meat into those bags. Make sure to use a Sharpie to mark out the original UPC code on the package.
I have had issues with New Seasons Grocery in Portland Oregon refusing to put meat, cheese, or deli items in my containers. They are claiming it is a health code violation. I have checked with the health department and it seems they may be right. There is a very specific way they could handle the items that involves using some deli paper (compostable) but it doesn't seem they are willing to train their employees in food handling that will support zero waste. I'm interested in starting a local group of zero wasters for some lobby power around town. Are there other Portlanders out there who will join with me? Is there a way to start local forums, starting with this site, then perhaps jumping off to facebook? It seems a lot of these issues are different depending on where you live. Anyone interested can look me up on facebook by email, or just send email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Had some interesting experiences:
Safeway: totally OK with putting deli meat in my container with price sticker on bottom. Asked butcher at the "meat counter" aka "ring the bell", about bringing own container and having them fill it in the back-- Was OK with concept but said would have to weigh in a styrofoam tray then dump into my container; they would throw away the foam tray. So, would save on the plastic for wrapping, no plastic bags to prevent drips. Hmm. Reason for asking is the cheaper meat. Clearly not from "happy" cows, but a consideration when cost an issue. Great look from the cashier, but he was totally enthused when I commented on ZW.
Local butcher shop: They'll put in any container I bring in. Happy chickens, etc, but cost of any meat product almost double Safeway. <sigh>
Not making much progress on a less-meat diet...
Still haven't figured out perfect container for a whole chicken/roast. I have some [old] larger tupperware-type containers, might break down and use just for transport.
Cheese-- local cheese shop, totally enthused, gave me discount for BYOB. Used a nylon (I know...) produce bag got from Kootsac @ Etsy.
Bread-- nice! we have two/three local bakeries which place products (bagels, small baguettes, panini) daily in bins at various stores, and are priced by the piece. Easy to put into a canvas bag, and just enumerate to cashier what is in there. Bakery near me will give BYOB discount and is also thrilled when hand them the bag. I just found an old fashioned glass "bagel jar" -!score!- and will start using it for these kinds of breads. Still baking my own loaves, too. Using the canvas bag+ tin method for the loaves. If were to freeze have some "insulated (wool)" zippered bags I could use.
Good idea! Totally agree with convenience vs clunky plastic thing. Next time it's the $5 Friday special, I should bring in my *whatever* and have them put it in! Forgot to mention, the convincing argument today, as the Deli counter person was a bit hesitant, was "they did it last time..." which was true :-) --it worked! I just held up the container and she dropped meat in. Quickly slapped lid on, then flipped so she could put sticker on bottom. I haven't pushed *not* using the little bit of paper used when weighing, as I think having to zero out container weight may be a deal breaker. Anyway, she never had to handle anything. Faster and more convenient for both of us. On a roll.... probably helps that I'm well known at this particular store.
Obviously the point of this is that even your generic chain grocery store has some flexibility. Just gotta make it simpler for them to go along with you.
I've been able to squeeze a Cornish hen into the glass jars, but no such luck getting a whole chicken in there;)
I've been eying the Chantal Make & Take containers as a way to transport, bake and store larger items. I like how the lids seal onto the container with a silicone gasket, so you don't have to worry about the lid popping off in your shopping cart (or on the ride home, a problem I had when I transported the Thanksgiving turkey breast in my other lidded roasting pan). Another neat feature is that the lids can be written on with marker and will hold onto the ink until you wash it off with soap and warm water. I'm thinking the 3 1/2 qt. round casserole may fit a whole 3-4 lb. chicken.