Every summer, I look forward to the return of our farmer’s markets. Farmer’s markets are the perfect spot to pick up fresh local produce and more. And, while every farmer’s market is a little bit different, here are a few tips to make the most of the one in your area.
Many farmer’s markets don’t offer bags or boxes for shoppers to put their produce in. It’s always a good idea to bring your own reusable shopping bag or two with you when you shop. If you’ll be buying loose vegetables like green beans or fruits like apples, it may be a good idea to bring a few small cloth bags as well.
If you’d like to save a bit of money on your fresh produce at the farmer’s market, shop right before the market closes for the day. Many vendors don’t want to bring all of their produce back home again, so they are more likely to mark down the prices or make a deal if you ask. Just don’t ask them to reduce it too much, they need to make a living from their sales.
Remember that you will be purchasing your produce in season. That means that you probably won’t be able to buy everything that you would expect to get at the grocery store. You may be able to get a variety of jams, jellies, pie fillings or other dried fruits at your market, but for the most part stick to picking up fresh, in-season produce.
Make sure that you bring cash and a variety of coins with you when you shop. Many farmer’s markets won’t accept checks and smaller vendors often cannot process credit cards. Make sure that you bring cash and not just large bills. You don’t want to be stuck if a vendor cannot make change for your purchase.
Take your time when shopping. It’s not uncommon to find more than one vendor that sells the same things. Walk the entire farmer’s market once before purchasing anything. Once you’ve seen it all and know what you’re interested in, go back to the vendor with the best quality and best price to make your purchase.
Don’t be afraid to try something new. We all love our favorite corn on the cob and fresh strawberries. But, why not try kohlrabi, kiwis or star fruit if you have the chance. If you’re not sure how to cook something, ask before you buy it. You never know. You might find a brand new family favorite.