Your local farmers market is a great place to get local fresh produce. But if you’ve never been before, it can be a bit overwhelming. At Symphony Nutrition we are passionate about locally grown food and as for how to’s, we’ve got your back. If you want to get the most out of your experience, keep reading for our farmers market tips!
1. Get to your farmers market early.
Farmers markets typically open early in the morning, so you’ll want to get there close to opening time if you’re interested in the best selection of goods and the freshest produce. It may also help to take a quick lap around the entire market before you buy. Doing this allows you to compare which vendors offer the best deals on the items you want. Going early means deals are less likely, but popular items will be well-stocked.
2. Get to the market at the end of the day.
If you’re not a morning person or want to avoid the crowds, aim for the end of the farmers market day. Vendors are often eager to sell as much as possible to avoid having to carry back their unsold goods. As a result, you may not have as much selection to choose from, but you’ll still be able to get some great deals from the vendors on produce that didn’t sell or is about to go bad.
3. Bring cash.
While most farmers market vendors do accept credit cards, it’s important to bring enough cash to cover your purchases. Bringing cash helps the vendors!
There are often fees associated with credit card transactions. Paying cash helps them avoid a reduction in their profit.
Bringing smaller bills to the market can help make purchases more efficient too. It’s easier for vendors to make change, and having exact cash can make the transaction go quicker.
4. Bring your own bags.
Many vendors at the farmers market will have bags available, but it’s always good to bring your own reusable bags just in case. Reusable bags are better for the environment, and you’ll be prepared if an environmentally conscious vendor or market doesn’t provide them.
There are a ton of great options for reusable bags here.
5. Have a plan for your produce.
If you’re not sure what you want to do with all that fresh produce, it can be helpful to have a plan before you go to the farmers market. That way, you can make sure to buy items that will fit into your meal plan for the week and prevent unused produce from hitting the garbage can. Planning can also help avoid overspending. It’s easy to see all the colorful fruits and vegetables and be tempted to take it all home. (Having said that, leaving a little room in the budget for fancy veggies you’ve never heard of before can be a fun cooking adventure.)
6. Should you haggle with the vendors?
Is it acceptable to try to negotiate with farmers market vendors? If you’re buying in bulk, or if you’re looking for a particular item, you may be able to ask for a discount. But it’s probably best not to haggle over everything. Paying the asking price for fresh produce helps to support the farmers and the local economy.
That said, end-of-day deals are more likely than deals when the market opens but make sure you ask the market staff. In some cases, end-of-day deals are not allowed.
7. Taste before you buy.
Most farmers markets will allow you to taste-test the produce before you purchase it. This is a great way to ensure you’re getting something you’ll enjoy.
8. Know what is in season at the farmers market
The availability of certain items at a farmers market will depend a lot on what’s in season, so knowing when your favorites are likely to be there can help with planning. You’ll also
get the freshest produce and the best prices because seasonal produce is typically priced lower than out-of-season items.
Knowing what is in season will help ensure getting your favorite produce before the season ends. And it will also help you plan appropriate substitutes if the vendors are out of your first choice.
To find out what produce is in season in your area this month, check out this handy guide.
9. Ask questions.
Farmers markets are a great place to get information about the food you’re buying. So don’t be afraid to ask the farmers or vendors questions about the food they’re selling.
If you’re unsure how to prepare a particular type of fruit or vegetable, or if you want to know more about where a product came from, farmers and vendors can be a great resource. They’re usually more than happy to chat with customers and share their knowledge.
Type of questions you might ask:
Do you spray crops minimally?
Are your animals pasture raised?
What items will you have next month?
How is it best to store this item?
When was this item harvested?
10. There is more than produce at a farmers market.
Farmers markets are a great place to find local, artisanal products. In addition to produce, you’ll often find things like honey, cheese, bread, and other prepared foods.
Farmers markets are also a great place to find unique gifts. So if you’re looking for something special for someone in your life, make sure to budget some extra time on your trip to browse.
Shopping at a farmers market should be a fun and enjoyable experience. So take your time, talk to the vendors, and savor the freshness of the food.
By following these farmers market tips, you’ll be sure to have a great experience shopping at your local farmers market!
To learn about all the wonderful reasons to shop at a farmers market, head to The Benefits of Shopping at a Farmers Market.
Check out this link for an amazing tomato sauce for all those farmers market tomatoes!