Hot coffee in hand, gumboots elegantly donned and a parking lot full of fresh fruit, vegetables, breads and baked goods “” could it get any better?
Farmers Markets are the heartbeat of any community, helping sustain the small, family growers and injecting much-needed money into a public asset. Saying that, navigating these markets requires strategy and a keen eye, but never fear, we have you covered.
Follow these six tips to get the most out of your next trip to the market.
Many farmers markets only accept cash, so stop by the ATM before you arrive. If you’re unsure on how much to take, think of the amount you spend on grocery goods and take that, it’s usually cheaper at the markets but you never know what you might find.
Bring your own bag and cooler
It’s always better to take reusable grocery bags, not only for environmental reasons, but just incase the farmers don’t provide plastic bags. Plus, if you’re planning to purchase milk, eggs, cheese, or meat, it’s always best to take along a small cooler with an ice pack.
The best deals are often available first thing in the morning when the market opens. Farmers only bring a certain amount of each item, so getting there early increases the odds that you’ll get what you want. After you arrive, take a lap around the market to see what is available that day and determine where you want to buy your produce.
Get to know your farmer
Talking to a farmer will give you an opportunity to learn more about their farming practices. Organic certification can be very costly, so small farmers will often choose to follow organic guidelines without the official certification. Ask your farmer how they grow their produce. Your farmer (or his wife) can also be a great resource for recipes!
Don’t focus on looks
Unlike the perfectly polished produce you often find at the supermarket, farmers market produce may look bruised and ugly “” and it’s probably a good sign! Blemishes can be great indicators that the food is homegrown or even organic. Homegrown foods, unlike mass-produced crops, are also less likely to be oversized.
Know when to buy organic
Buying organic produce is one of the best ways to avoid unwanted chemical sprays and preservatives. There are 12 fruits and vegetables, which should be purchased as organic whenever possible, including apples, asparagus, bell peppers, blueberries, brussels sprouts, eggplant, grapes, peaches, pears, peas, strawberries, and tomatoes.
To find your local Farmers Market – try the following websites: