Shopping at a farmer’s market is very different from shopping at a grocery store. The whole experience can be intimidating and unpredictable. It helps to treat the idea of shopping at a farmers market just like any new experience –practice makes perfect and the more that you go to the market the easier it will be and the more pleasure you’ll find from eating very fresh, seasonal produce from local farms.
Prepare for the trip with these 5 tips:
- Arrive early – Farmers and vendors usually sell out of their produce and products by the end of the market so the sooner you arrive the better the selection. Also, outdoor markets will heat up after the morning hours, which can cause lettuce and other delicate produce like herbs to wilt.
- Make a flexible shopping list – Don’t let the list dictate your purchases. Wait to see what’s freshest when you get there and be flexible with the seasonal offerings. There are many cookbooks that are organized by produce and season – these will help to give you some ideas for combining flavors and vegetables that you may not be used to using in the kitchen.
- Talk to the farmers, your neighbors and people in your community – Not sure how to prepare a particular vegetable? Ask folks at the market including the farmers. You can also use your shopping time to socialize with your neighbors and people in your community.
- Try something new – variety is the spice of life and you’re likely to see many varieties of produce at a farmers market that can’t be found in a grocery store – duck eggs, kohlrabi, fresh shell beans, and garlic scapes. These foods will surely add a unique variety of nutrients and taste experiences to your meals.
- Bring bags and a cooler with an ice pack – Reusable bags save plastic and are usually easier to carry. A cooler with ice packs will help your food purchases stay cool while you shop and socialize.