Farmers’ markets are a dream come true. They offer local, (usually) organic produce. Just looking at all the vibrant fruits, veggies, and baked goods is enough to get us excited. They offer similar products that you’d find at a fancy grocery store, but for a fraction of the price.
Still, going shopping at one can feel overwhelming, especially if it’s a market with loads of vendors. You might get too trigger-happy and end up with a fridge full of food that’s gone bad before you can use it.
Here are some “hacks” that will greatly improve your farmer’s market experience and ensure that you get the most bang for your buck.
Our beautiful planet produces certain foods in certain seasons, so take advantage of that! Aligning your seasonal eating habits is actually a way to become more in tune with the Earth and your body’s needs. For instance, summer requires more hydrating foods and antioxidants to protect you from the sun. For fall, switch from asparagus to Brussels sprouts. In winter, head towards the root vegetables. Sites like this can help guide you in picking the best seasonal produce.
Early bird gets the best pick (but last is fine, too)
If you’re not a morning person, it might not be fun to wake up early for a recreational weekend event. However, it could guarantee that you get the best selection of food at the farmer’s market. However, some markets start in the afternoon, so keep that in mind. If you come towards the very end of a market, you might get some freebies, but coming both earlier — and later — will result in a less bustling and chaotic crowd.
Vendors don’t always have bags, and even if they do, they’re usually paper. Heavy items like corn or squash can break through and be a mess to carry around, especially when you’re not through with your shopping. Bring a few reusable bags or a cart; both are more eco-friendly and offer increased convenience.
Don’t be afraid to get chatty
Farmers are your friends! Whereas the associate at your grocery store might look at you funny if you try to become buddies, forging personal connections with the workers at the farmer’s market is educational and helps you build relationships (and future discounts). Use their expertise: ask how to find out the ripeness of something, or how to store it for lasting freshness. You can also visit the farm directly (COVID permitting, of course) to find secret goodies.
Avoid bulking up on artisanal products
Yes, we know all about the delicious baked goods, handmade items, and hard to resist nibbles at the FM. Sometimes our cravings get out of hand, so bring snacks or eat something beforehand to curb that appetite. Make your wallet happier and only invest in the fresh foods that you’ll find at your local farmer’s market.
Photo by Shelley Pauls on Unsplash
Thanks for this. I’m rather new at farmers markets, so another tip I’ll add is to bring cash – not every vendor can accept plastic or Venmo. And if you see a basket of something (say, peaches) but you know you can only eat 2-3, ask for that amount – they will often be glad to sell you what you need.
Regarding the artisans: I’m all about discouraging impulse buys and getting more ‘stuff’ than we need, so I would encourage folks to plan ahead for gifts, etc. by shopping these vendors – they are sharing their talents and trying to make a living too! A great way to shop local and get original items for gifts.
Thanks for the tip!