Saturday, May 23, 2009

Farmer's Market Tips

My friend Bridgette and I met up this morning at one of our many local farmer's market spots (the same farmers, for the most part, come to 5 area locations throughout the week; the Saturday morning one is the biggest and is downtown). This was the second week for both of us this year, and we are learning as we go. Some tips:

  1. Find out where your area has a farmer's market or local produce stands! (Check out
  2. Go once to check it out with no expectations (i.e. what specific produce you'll find).
  3. Bring cash (we can also use a debit card to get wooden tokens called "market money"--my daughter loves to "pay" with these and it helps keep me to my budget...ahem...).
  4. Bring your own bags, if possible.
  5. GO EARLY for best selection (and to beat crowds).
  6. Know before you go how much produce your family will/can consume. The produce you buy at the market is super fresh and will taste best if you can consume it promptly (certainly within the week). Otherwise you may, like me, be giving away excess to neighbors later in the week!
  7. Stop and talk to people! Ask questions about what they're selling. Sometimes the vendors can tell you how to cook an unfamiliar type of cabbage or will introduce you to a new kind of sheep's cheese they make.
  8. Enjoy the day: buy a sweet treat for your kids; bring the dog; stroll around.*
  9. Remember that the majority of the money you're paying will go back to those same farmers (maybe all), unlike what you'll spend in the grocery store. The farmers can tell you how they grow the produce/what they put on it for pest control and the like. I've been amazed at how a relatively small amount of produce goes a pretty long way; the price is worth it, in my opinion. I also tend to waste less if I've paid a slightly higher price. On the flip side, some farmer's market produce can be much, much cheaper than your local grocery store.
  10. Try a new vegetable each week! (or buy something you might now buy in the store).
*Even if your farmer's market is in a massive area with the same vendors nearly all year, you can still make it a "local" experience. My sister and I used to go to the Georgia State Farmer's Market in Atlanta, and it was HUGE. We'd split a big bag of freshly shelled purple hull peas, a bushel of local peaches, and buy up all the red peppers (3/$1) we could carry!

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