Do you find crowds of people and overflowing produce to be overwhelming? Well, you’re not the only one. Farmers’ markets have been a tried and true love for city folks and country dwellers alike. There’s something special about buying honey from a local farm or getting the prime picking of Gary’s berries. Farmers’ markets bring communities together — and better yet, foodies.
But it’s true: the experience as a whole can be overwhelming, especially when you’re a newbie. We all gotta start somewhere, right? We gathered 6 top tips to help you shop smarter (and thriftier) at your next farmers’ market.
Seasonality is everything
Depending on where you live, it’s likely that you have year-round farmer’s markets. If so, lucky you! Regardless, it’s key that you pay attention to the seasons and what that means for produce. As fall starts rolling in, ditch the asparagus and make a beeline for the brussels sprouts. For all of the East Coaster’s out there, the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets has a handy guide that you should keep at the ready. Seriously, paying attention to the seasonality of produce will be a game-changer.
Go early… or late
Now take your pick. The early birds get the ultimate selection but the later folks may score better deals (or even walk away with free loaves of leftover bread from vendors). No matter what time you choose, the earlier and later times will typically guarantee quieter crowds.
Bag it up
Most vendors will not have bags for you. In other words, bring your own from home! You know you have some (we all do!). If you don’t have a stockpile of reusable shopping bags, you can opt for a basket or a small push cart.
Interact with farmers
OK, this might be our most important tip. The farmers selling you the produce know their stuff. Is it your first time cooking with artichokes? Or are you unsure how to figure out if a watermelon is ripe or not? The farmers will know, and they will most likely be more than happy to share some tricks of the trade. Another benefit? You’ll know exactly who your hard earned money is going to.
… and always share your success stories
Farmers aren’t standing in their stall all day just to make a few bucks. They eat, sleep and breathe produce. Their crowning moment? Your standout dinner featuring their summer squash. Or the blackberry jam you gifted your friend that she can’t stop raving about. Follow up with the farmers and create a lasting relationship with them. Who knows where it may lead!