1 | 1139 views
Shopping at a farmers’ market can be a fun and rewarding experience. Buying produce at such markets is one of the best ways to obtain fresh fruits and vegetables, many of which are often organic and locally-grown.
Planning a smart trip to the farmers’ market, however, may require a bit more planning than your average trip to the grocery store. Follow these simple tips to make your next trip to the farmers’ market your best one yet!
When visiting the farmers’ market, look for seasonal offerings. If you’re unsure of what fruits and vegetables are currently in season, do a little bit of research before you visit. Pay attention to what produce is grown in your local community; different regions may have different monthly offerings. Practically all produce tastes best when it’s harvested during its peak growing season. By shopping seasonally, you’ll be able to take home the freshest-tasting goods at the best prices.
Pack For Your Trip
Grocery stores tend to offer customers sturdy bags and the ability to pay with debit and credit cards. These options, however, may not be made available to you at your local market! If bags are provided, they may be made of flimsy plastic. Instead of struggling with breakable bags, pack a number of sturdy sacks for packing up your produce. If you regularly make large purchases or tend to buy heavier items like potatoes or melons, consider investing in a rolling trolley cart or wagon, too.
When it comes to payment, be considerate of your local farmers. Instead of forcing local vendors to make change for large bills, fill your wallet with smaller currency denominations and change.
Communicate & Negotiate!
Shopping at a farmers’ market should be a social experience! Engage in small-talk with your local farmers. If you’re curious about a product, inquire about it! Ask vendors how certain fruits and vegetables taste and how they personally like to prepare them.
If you’re shopping shortly before closing time, you may also be able to negotiate with certain vendors. Many farmers prefer selling their excess product at discounted prices rather than packing it up at the end of the day. When haggling for a better deal, however, it is important to remain considerate of the farmers and their needs. Make fair offers and accept the vendors’ responses.
Grocery stores tend to stock only the most ideal-looking fruits and vegetables. Most of us have become accustomed to this highly sanitized shopping experience. When buying local produce, however, it is important to consider the realities of how our food is grown. Certain fruits and vegetables may be small, misshapen, or discolored. Some types of produce, particularly root vegetables, may still have dirt on them. Organic or minimally-fertilized produce may need to be checked more thoroughly for bugs. If something looks odd, don’t shy away from it! A delicious treat just might be hiding beneath an imperfect exterior!
It’s easy to become overwhelmed by the number of goods available at many farmers’ markets. In addition to fruits and vegetables, many vendors sell products such as honey, baked goods, fresh meats, handmade items, and more. Once you’ve visited a particular market once or twice, however, you’ll likely be more aware of the various booths and the products they have to offer. Before making your next trip, make a shopping list. Make a meal plan that includes seasonal produce. Consider which fruits and vegetables you may be able to incorporate into salads and snacks throughout the week. By planning ahead, you can avoid over-spending and ensure that you’ll eat all of your produce while it’s still fresh.
Buy in Bulk
Buying local, organic produce is usually more expensive than opting for the cheapest foreign option at a discount grocery store. If you’re looking to save money at the farmers’ market, consider buying in bulk. Many vendors offer discounts for larger purchases. Buy more and share your bounty with family and friends. Research various food conservation methods. Many types of produce can be frozen, for instance. Other goods, such as herbs, may lend themselves well to being dried. Learn more about canning and begin preserving fruits and vegetables for the winter season. By buying in bulk and preserving your produce, you’ll be able to enjoy your purchases for weeks or months to come.
Instead of buying all of your produce at the grocery store, support your community’s farmers this summer. Browse all of the stalls, chat up the vendors, and purchase something you’ve never tried before. You just might discover a new favorite treat!
Photo: © Gina Sanders / fotolia.com