The very definition of a farmers’ market is something that makes it more special when it comes to buying your produce. You get it fresh and straight from your local producers. But should you treat it like your ordinary grocery shopping? Here are 18 great farmers’ market tips so you’ll have an idea of how to shop at a farmers’ market.
Bring small change
While some farmers’ market vendors accept credit and debit cards, many of them don’t.
Your best bet is to bring cash — preferably small bills. That’ll keep you from spending more than you want to.
Bring lots of bags
Don’t expect vendors to supply bags or boxes for you to carry your items. You’ll need to bring those yourself. Always take more than you think you’ll need!
Don’t look for pretty produce
You might find some wonky-looking fruits and veggies at a farmers’ market. That’s because they’re not selected for their beauty like at the supermarket. They’re still perfectly good, so don’t pass them up!
Best farmers market tips: Shop in season
What’s one way to know that you’re supporting local farmers? Learn what fruits and vegetables are in season.
That ensures you’re not getting produced that’s been shipped from far away, but rather grown in your community.
Make plans for carrying and storing your food
You’ll probably spend several hours at a farmers’ market. That means you’ll need to have a way not just to carry your food, but also store it.
You might want to bring your own foldable cart for farmers’ market, or a cooler of ice to keep in your trunk in the interest of food safety.
Look to see how it’s stored
You have the right to make sure you’re not getting spoiled food! Produce sits out for long hours at the market, so double and triple-check that perishables are stored safely.
Get an expert’s opinion
If your farmers’ market is popular, find out what local chefs think of it. Check on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram to see if they’ve made any posts about items to look for at the market.
Check your honey
Fresh honey from local beekeepers is delicious and a great way to support workers and bee colonies within your community. But make sure it’s really local.
Some vendors try to pass off supermarket honey as their own.
Don’t buy the first thing you see
Because it’s easy to get overwhelmed by all the sights and smells of the market, you might feel tempted to buy everything you see. But don’t lose your head. Take some time to browse before you make a choice.
Take a lap before you choose
Sometimes, the best method is to take a lap around the entire market before deciding where to stop. Take it all in to get a sense of what you’re going to find.
Chat with the farmers
When vendors know what they’re talking about, they’re basically experts. Don’t be afraid to ask farmers questions about their produce, including how they grew it and the proper way to store it.
Shop late if you’re looking for a discount
While early in the day brings the best selection, you might score lower prices if you hit the market at the end of the day. In the last hour or two, vendors are hoping to get rid of their so they can pack up and go home.
Take your time
Don’t rush to make a purchase.
Doing so could mean spending money on something that’s not as good a deal as you thought. Consider all your options before deciding how to spend your money.
Ask about safety measures
If you’re worried about the safety of a food item, asked questions about how it’s produced and stored. This goes for everything, including produce, meat, and dairy. Good vendors will be happy to answer your questions!
Don’t bring a list
Part of the beauty of a farmers’ market is the spontaneity. Don’t tie yourself to a farmers market shopping list like it’s a regular grocery trip. If you need some structure, you can bring your meal plan for the week.
Try something new
Don’t be scared off by weird or unfamiliar fruits and veggies. You might discover a new favorite by chance that’ll never be in short supply.
After all, who else is going to buy the pawpaws, cherimoya, or Romanesco broccoli?
While haggling isn’t considered good manners at a farmers’ market, it’s okay to probe a little bit to determine the quality of the produce. Just do so politely and remember that farmers work hard for their crops.
Don’t be afraid to shop in bulk
It’s not unusual to be scared off by farmers trying to unload bulk quantities of berries, rhubarb, or other items.
However, you can save a bundle of money on delicious fruits and veggies by purchasing large quantities and then storing, drying, canning, or freezing them.
Having these farmers market ideas in mind, it will be easier for you to get the best out of your market experience. These farmers’ market tips will entice you to go there more often for your produce needs and support your local farmers while you’re at it.