1. Shop seasonally
Farmers’ markets are perfect for offering food that’s local and fresh, and also seasonal. Eating food that is seasonally available in your area has many advantages. An abundance of crops and low production costs usually makes produce less expensive. When food isn’t in season locally, it’s typically grown in a greenhouse or shipped in from other parts of the world, and both affect the taste of the food we put on our table. When food is in season and ripens naturally, it’s able to develop its full, natural flavor. And not only does food taste better when it’s harvested seasonally, it maintains its nutrients as well.
2. Go at the right time
Have you ever gone for a trip to the farmer’s market, only to be overwhelmed by a mass of people? Time to rethink your shopping strategy. If you want the best selection, it’s best to go early and get to the stands before other people have picked their produce. If you’re more interested in a good deal, it’s best to go later. You’ll often find great deals on bunches of flowers, herbs and food that you might not have gotten otherwise. Regardless of when you go, be sure to take your time and scope out the entire market before making your shopping selections.
3. Bring bags
Many vendors will bring plastic bags with them for your purchases, but they run out quickly. It’s best to bring your own reusable bags to the farmer’s market to carry your purchases. If you’ll be purchasing the majority of your groceries at the market, it might be wise to invest in a small wire basket to pull so you can sort through fresh produce easily.
4. Plan your meals, but be flexible
Coming to the farmer’s market without a game plan is like stepping into the kitchen without a recipe. Some people are comfortable with winging it, others like a plan. It’s great to come to the farmer’s market with an idea of meals you’ll want to make, but the flexibility to change out that side of potatoes for some delicious fresh butternut squash. Planning your meals will make sure that you don’t overspend on things you don’t need, but give you the flexibility to try new things that you wouldn’t find at your regular grocery.
5. Ask questions
Farmers are at the farmers’ market because they want to give you the best option available – fresh, local produce. They have an abundance of knowledge – don’t be afraid to talk to them! They’ll be able to tell you how to pick the best produce, their favorite way to prepare it, and the best way to store it at home. Tap them for help!
6. Try new things
Belgian endive? Figs? Purslane? Kale? Go for it! The farmer’s market is a great place to try new things and find something new to love. Who knows, maybe it’s that “one thing” your dish is missing.
7. Bring the family
Farmers’ markets are a great place to introduce your children to fresh, nutritious food. Include them in the shopping process and let them help you pick out produce, teaching them how to best select fruits and vegetables based on their ripeness. There’s no better way to introduce kids to new foods than to let them help you pick it. The farmer’s market is a fun, active outdoor activity that gets the entire family moving and participating in what they eat.