The farmers market is a God-send. From cheaper prices to the freshest produce known to mankind, not to mention the leisurely stroll you can make through the streets—it’s a great way to spend your morning, with or without the kids.
If you’re thinking about making a trip, here are eight farmers market tips for taking advantage of there is to offer, plus a few kid-friendly suggestions:
1. Know what’s in season and jump on it
Before you head to the farmers market, it’s a good idea to know what fruits/veggies are in season so you can mentally prepare (and gather recipe ideas!). If you go in looking for something specific, you might be disappointed to find that it’s not actually available, so it’s always better to do a bit of research first.
These are the fruits (generally) in season during the summer months: cherries, apricots, melon, peaches, strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, blueberries, nectarines, plums and figs.
These are the veggies that are (generally) in season: eggplant, herbs, potatoes, corn, tomatillos, tomatoes, cucumbers, okra, beans, carrots, bell peppers, and summer squash.
2. Arrive early
This might sound silly, but especially if you’re shopping with kiddos, it’s best to show up early. The saying goes, ‘the early bird gets the worm.’ Well, for the farmers market, this is pretty true! If you go too late, you might miss out on produce you were looking for, or things might be less fresh if they’ve been out in the sun all day.
3. Get to know the vendors
Getting to know the vendors is always a good idea. Not only will these conversations potentially get you deals on different produce and products, but it builds relationships which is one of the best parts (and biggest difference) between a farmers market and a local grocery store.
You can also ask specific questions, which can be helpful if you want to try something new or if you have specific food allergies/intolerances. Plus, vendors can also share recipes and cooking secrets you may never have thought of!
4. Don’t be shy about asking for deals
There’s a big difference between haggling and asking about a deal. One of the biggest farmers market tips: it’s frowned upon to haggle or negotiate. But it is possible (especially if you’re looking for a specific quantity of something) to ask for a discount or deal.
5. Be open to trying new things
The farmers market is meant to be a place where you can be adventurous and explore new foods/products. Many vendors will have samples—try everything you can! My current favorite dip, Bitchin’ Sauce (gluten-free made from almonds!) came from stepping out of my comfort zone at a market! If I hadn’t tried it, I would never have known how much I love it! And trust me when I say it’s the absolute best.
6. Bring reusable bags and cash
It’s always a good idea to bring your own reusable grocery bags (these are my favorite—lightweight and durable!) That way you won’t get into a bind if you decide to binge purchase a bunch of fruit, but you’ll also conserve the environment by using bags that aren’t single-use.
If you’re only buying fresh produce, you might want to consider getting reusable produce bags. These are lightweight, see-through, and open bags that allow the fruits/veggies to breathe and not get squished. It makes sense if you have less to throw in your bag.
You’ll also want to bring cash, too, just in case a vendor you like doesn’t accept card payments.
7. Browse before purchasing
Get the lay of the land before you commit to making any purchases. This is smart because you can see all the deals and weigh out possible options before jumping in. It’s also fun to peruse the space and see if there are any other events happening: live music, discounts, kid play areas, etc.
8. Store your goodies appropriately
Once you get home, one of the most important things is making sure you’re conserving your items (especially in the case of fresh produce). To protect your fresh fruits and veggies, perhaps consider an airtight container or ‘food saver’ to keep everything sealed and safe.
It’s also worth looking into what fruits/veggies can be washed immediately vs. ones that can wait until right before eating. Strawberries, blackberries, huckleberries (and other backyard berries) should always be washed right away to remove pesticides, dirt, and other chemicals. Raspberries, blueberries, and grapes should be washed right before eating to conserve their freshness.
Love perusing our farmers market tips? Have some of your own? Share with us!
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Featured Image Credit: Tim Mossholder