One of many things to look forward to as summer approaches are local farmers markets. Not only are they a great way to find fresh produce at an affordable price, but you also have the benefit of knowing where exactly the products you purchase were sourced from, and in some instances, how they were made.
Are you new to the farmers’ market scene? As we approach the opening of Farmers Markets in communities across the US, consider these tips and tricks to help you get the most out of your farmers market shopping experience.
Get There Early or Late
For the best produce, get there early. Farmers markets tend to be less crowded and have the best selection right when they open. Getting there early will ensure you are able to purchase the produce you want and find the freshest, most attractive items.
For the best deals, get there late. As crowds begin to thin out towards the end of the market, oftentimes vendors will begin to discount their products so they don’t have to cart them back home. For the best deals, go to a farmers market when it is nearing closing time, but understand that most of the prime produce will be gone and some items will likely be sold out.
Bring Cash and Carriers
Almost all vendors will deal in cash only, so make sure you have plenty cash on hand when venturing to the market. It is also wise to bring your own sturdy bags to carry fresh produce home in. Not all vendors offer bags to carry your goodies, and those that do often have cheap, plastic bags that break easily and can’t carry much weight.
Loosely Plan Your Shopping List
Be aware of the seasons and what will likely be available at the market and plan out must-have items. Have an idea of what you want to purchase ahead of time, but don’t let that keep you from trying new, foreign products and discovering tasty alternatives!
Weigh Your Options
Do a loop of the entire market before you buy. This will help you to find the best prices on the best produce and allow you to weigh all of your options before purchasing.
Don’t Be Afraid to Ask for a Sample
If you are interested in sampling a product or trying something new, don’t be afraid to ask! Most vendors are more than happy to let you sample their products and ask any questions you may have. It’s part of the experience!
Ask the Farmers
Unsure about how to determine the best produce? Ask the farmers themselves. They will be able to offer the best advice on selecting, preparing and storing their products as well as answer any questions regarding sourcing and growing methods.
Don’t Try to Bargain
Farmers already have very small margins on items they bring to market and often price produce incredibly fair. Pay the price they ask, it is completely worth it to have super fresh produce and support the local economy. The equivalent local, fresh produce in a specialty market would likely cost at least two to three times as much.
Purchase in Volume
If you are looking for the best deals, buy in bulk. You can use as much as you’d like fresh in your cooking and preserve the rest! Be wary though, food at the farmers market isn’t coated in preservatives like its store bought counterparts. Make sure you use or preserve your bounty before it spoils!
Fresh Does Not Equal Organic
There are many vendors that offer organic produce at farmers markets, but not all of them do. Watch out for buzz words such as “natural”, “artisan” and “specialty” and seek out items that are certified organic.
Want to find a farmers market near you? This handy search tool can help locate all of your nearest options!
Svelte organic protein shakes use local, non-GMO soy and support the organic farming community! You too can support your local organic community through shopping farmers markets and co-ops.
Do you have any tips for shopping at the farmers market? Share them with us in the comments below or on our Facebook page!