Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Market Shopping Tips

Eek!  Opening Day is less than 2 weeks away!

Shopping at the farmers' market is certainly a different experience from buying groceries at the supermarket - and a much more pleasant one, if you ask me.  Whether you are new to farmers' markets or a long-time regular, we hope these tips will help you to make the most of your visit.

1.       Know your seasons – Having an idea of what to expect can make for smoother planning and shopping.  Check out a seasonal produce chart or talk with farmers about what might be ready for market in the coming weeks.

2.     Get there early – The best produce goes fast!  Arriving at the very start of the market will give you the greatest selection of goods, both in terms of variety and quality.  Highly perishable items will also be freshest earlier in the day.  The market opens at 9:00 a.m. on Saturdays and 3:00 p.m. on Wednesdays.

3.     Bring small bills and keep cash easily accessible – Most items only cost a few dollars.  While vendors can usually make change, they appreciate small bills and/or exact change when possible.

4.     Bring your own bags – Bringing your own bags is great for the environment and saves the vendor a little bit of money.  You might also consider bringing a small cooler or ice packs if you plan to purchase meat, eggs, or other items that must be kept cool.

5.     Leave the dog at home – Due to health and safety regulations, no animals are permitted on the market premises with the exception of service animals.

6.     Bring your kids – Not only is the market a fun family outing; it is also a great setting to teach children about healthy eating, sustainability, and where their food comes from.  When you get home, ask them to help prepare a meal or snack with the produce you bought together.

7.     Scope out the scene – Take a lap around the market before you buy.  Multiple vendors might be selling the same items.  Whose looks the freshest?  Who has the best prices?  Are you looking for specific variety or an organically grown option?

8.     Be flexible – You never know what will be available on any given day at the farmers’ market, so keep an open mind.  Rather than have a list of specific items you need, think about what meals you plan to prepare during the week and be open to substituting different veggies if you need to.

9.     Get to know the vendors – Take the time to say hello to the farmers as you shop.  They can often give you a preview of what might be coming next week, information about their growing practices, or (best of all) delicious tips for how to prepare and enjoy their produce.

10. Try something new every week – Part of the fun of the farmers’ market is exploring varieties you can’t find at the supermarket, so step outside  your comfort zone.  And be ready to deal with real, whole foods.  Market produce is unprocessed, so carrots will be unpeeled and root veggies likely come with their green tops attached.  Don’t be afraid to ask how to prepare foods  you may not be accustomed to.

11. Take advantage of the market information booth – In addition to general market information, our booth this season will feature a weekly recipe and activities or giveaways on our special events days.

12. Wash everything when you get home – Since you are getting products straight from the farm, you may find that a little dirt, sand, or even small bugs come home with you, too.  Rinse all produce thoroughly before eating it.  If you have the time, wash, dry, trim and store everything when you get home so that your fruits and veggies are ready to go when you need them.

There you have it!  Soon you'll be shopping like a pro and enjoying the freshest produce around.

See you at the market!

Sources:  ModernFarmer.com,  BlueCrabMartini.com,  
YellowBlissRoad.com,  RD.com,  TheKitchn.com

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