When the weather warms up one of my favorite things to do with the family is to shop at the local farmers market. Ted and Joey love taste-testing the free samples, Anthony loves the stroller ride, and Mom loves chatting it up with vendors. And ogling all of the beautiful food! I’ve learned there’s a lot to be said about having a positive farmers market shopping experience. And since I’m hardly ever at a loss for words, I’m here to share 7 farmers market shopping tips with you!
- Watch the clock. The earlier you shop at the market the more likely you’ll beat the crowds and get the best pick of produce. You’ll also be more likely to get 1-1 attention with vendors so you won’t feel rushed if you have questions to be answered. If you decide to sleep in and head to the market later in the day, that’s OK! Farmers often discount their products later in the day.
- BYOB. Bring Your Own Bag. Most vendors do not supply customers with bags to take produce home in.
- Bring a cooler. Farmers markets aren’t just a shopping place for produce. Many markets have vendors that are selling meat and dairy items that require immediate refrigeration. By bringing a cooler you can keep foods cold so you don’t feel rushed by exploring the market.
- Know the seasons. Do some research before going to the market to know what’s in season in your area. I like this reference this Fruit and Vegetable Seasonal Guide.
- Bring cash. Most vendors only accept cash. And you never know how close the nearest ATM is.
- Try something new. Farmers markets offer a colorful variety of fruits and vegetables, which provide our bodies with vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals. The more colorful your shopping basket, the more of these essential nutrients you are likely eating! If you want to buy produce that you have never used before, ask a vendor how they would prepare it. Also buy a quantity that you’ll be likely to use within a few days.
- Think of meals ahead of time. Think about meals ahead of time so you don’t have buyer’s remorse when you get home! Also, take inventory of what you have in your kitchen before you head to the market. I love having a fridge full of produce, but I hate when it goes to waste.
Are you ready to make your own farmers market shopping experience? Visit USDA’s Farmers’ Market directory to search for a location near you!