Its that time of year, all the wonderful fruits and veggies are looking so smashingly beautiful and ready to be enjoyed and eaten up by anyone who appreciates the fresh, locally grown, sometimes organic bounty that arrives at your local farmers market. And don’t forget all the beautiful handmade gifts, flowers, and local people that get together and make the farmers market what it is…enjoyable for the whole family. Below are 13 helpful tips to making your farmers market shopping better all the way around.
- Print out 2 schedules of your local farmers market and put one on your fridge and one in your purse or work bag so you can keep track of which days the market is open and near your place of work or home.
- Decide on your priorities – Minimal pesticides, Organic, Locally grown, all natural, in-state farmers – before you go so you can find the right market for you.
- Make a plan before you go based on how many nights you are going to be home to cook so you know just how much food you will need to shop for.
- Bring a reusable bag that has plenty of room and can hang over your shoulder. For frozen meat or delicate greens, consider an insulted bag.
- Get to the market early if possible so you can get the best pick of the market.
- Don’t go expecting cheap food. The farmers market is not a place to go for bargains but ‘do’ expect the freshest and best quality food.
- If time permits, walk the market once through before you purchase anything so you can get an overview of exactly whats available that week.
- Get to know the farmers and establish a relationship with them. Let them know about your household needs for produce so they know which areas to expand.
- Don’t be afraid to ask the farmers for recipes and preparation of certain produce that they are offering.
- Bring cash, especially in small bills. Most farmers really appreciate being paid with cash but some do accept credit cards but don’t count on it.
- If you have a favorite item, ask the farmer how they look this year and when you might expect to see them in the market, so you can plan accordingly to when you want to start canning or making pies and jams.
- Some farmers charge different prices at different locations. See if your favorite farmer at an upscale markets also sells in a less fancy part of town, chances are the prices drop there.
- If you are concerned about non-local produce, “some areas have laws about this but others dont, so just ask if its locally grown,” Reis-Millersmaid.
Adapted from the Chicago Tribune article by Monica Eng, 13 Strategies for shopping farmers markets.