Chester County Farmer’s Markets and Cleaning Reusable Shopping Bags

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As the idea of “going green” has become completely ingrained in our way of living, reusable shopping bags are practically a no-brainer.  Now that it is farmers market season, I love toting my reusable shopping bags through the market to stock up on local produce and goods.   I have a rotating selection of 10-15 bags that get carried in the back of my car (cloth, recycled material, and insulted).


Something that I never really thought about was keeping them clean.  It sounds gross, but I figured I am just carrying groceries from the store to the car and from the car to our house.  They get put back into the car on our next trip out.  How are they getting dirty?


Well, we are putting ourselves at huge risk for cross contamination,and possibly, food poisoning.  On more than one occasion when losing electricity at home, I packed up our dairy and meats from the refrigerator and took them to my parent’ house to be stored.  One day I realized that there was a residue building on the bottom of my insulated bags.  I cleaned the bags with a disinfectant wipe, but I decided to do a search online to see how I should move forward.  How many times had I missed the nastiness on the bottom of the bag?   I did an internet search for ways to clean my bags and I found a  study performed by The Department of Soil, Water and Environmental Science, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ and The School of Public Health, Loma Linda University, Loma Linda, CA that concluded that:


  • Consumers almost never wash reusable bags

  • Large numbers of bacteria were found in every reusable bag, but none in new bags or plastic bags

  • Coliform bacteria including E. coli were found in half of the bags tested

  • Bacteria were capable of growth when stored in the trunks of cars

  • A potential significant risk of bacterial cross contamination exists from using reusable bags to carry groceries

  • Hand or machine washing reduced the numbers of bacteria in reusable bags by >99.9%

  • They are calling for printed instructions on reusable bags that they be washed between uses or the need to separate raw foods from other food products.

After reading that, I threw away all of my older bags.  I am only going to buy and keep high quality insulated bags and cloth bags that can be washed in the washing machine from here on out.  Is my decision a little less “green”?  Initially, yes.  But, once you have those higher quality bags, you won’t need new ones for a long time.  

The Market selection in Chester County feels like it has really widened.  Check out these local Markets throughout the season (and some through the winter as well!).


West Chester Growers Market

Every Saturday 9am – 1pm

At the corner of Church and Chestnut Streets in West Chester


The Artisan Exchange Indoor Artesian Foods and Farmer’s Market

Every Saturday 10am – 2pm

208 Carter Drive, West Chester, Pa


Malvern Farmers Market

Every Saturday 9am – 1pm

at Burke Park


Kennet Square Farmer’s Market

Every 1st and 3rd Saturdays 2pm – 6pm

Along East State Street


Downingtown Farmers Market

Thursdays 3pm – 7pm

at Kerr Park

Jen is a “Mom Blogger” in the sense that she writes about her life which largely revolves around being a mother. You can expect to hear about family life and raising young kids, recipes and menu planning, home organization, crafts, products that she loves and local, family friendly events and locations. You can hear more from Jen on her personal blog,


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