Farmer’s Markets – Great Values & Great People
Farmer’s markets are fabulous and exciting because of the beautiful bounty and the fascinating people. Part of the pleasure of shopping at your local farmer’s markets is developing an appreciation of fresh, local foods at the height of their natural season. Unless you grow it yourself, it doesn’t get much fresher than a farmer’s market. You can make the most of your time and money with a few helpful hints when you visit your farmer’s markets.
Farmer’s Markets – Finding Your Best One
Depending on where you live you may only have one Farmer’s market to choose from – so, that’s your best one! If you live in area where there are multiple farmer’s markets then a little research will help expedite your visit. The United States Department of Agriculture has a website where you can search farmer’s markets by available products. Good farmer’s markets are more than just fruits and vegetables. You may find meats, cheese, fish, ready-to-eat items, fresh cut flowers, eggs, preserved foods, and much more. http://search.ams.usda.gov/farmersmarkets/default.aspx
Farmer’s Markets – The Right Timing
If you’re visiting the farmer’s markets to shop, visit, lunch, listen to music, and just enjoy the atmosphere, any time is a great time. If you want the best selection at farmer’s markets, go early. But, don’t go before the market opens – let the farmer’s get set up and ready to help you. If you are trying to make every penny count at a farmer’s market, go toward the end of the day. Many farmers will discount their produce so they don’t have to haul unsold items back to the farm.
Farmer’s Markets – A Great Time to Talk
Every farmer’s market has different rules and regulations so talk to the farmer or vendo. Take the time to ask lots of questions. Is it organic? Do they spray? Is it pastured? Is the farm open to the public? Not every small farm is willing or able to go through the organic certification process (there’s a ton of paperwork and cost), but many are still using traditional organic farming practices.
If there are goods you haven’s seen before at the farmer’s markets, ask more questions. At farmer’s markets the seller will usually have ideas on how to prepare their fabulous products. Often they will give you a sample to try. Be courteous though and don’t use the farmer’s markets as a place to graze on samples if you aren’t intending to purchase.
If you want to know when goods will be available at the farmer’s markets, ask for a crop calendar. Larger farmer’s markets have an information booth. At smaller farmer’s markets, talk to the farmers and vendors. Knowing when the various fruits and vegetables will be available at the farmer’s market can help you plan and prepare – saving even more money.
If you take the time to talk to people at the farmer’s markets you’ll meet like-minded folks with great information and ideas to share.
Farmer’s Markets – Bring Your Own Bags/Basket
Most farmer’s markets vendors don’t supple disposable bags. If you’re planning on purchasing more perishable items at the farmer’s markets, a cooler may be helpful. Many farmer’s appreciate if you return jars, strawberry baskets, egg cartons, etc. to help defray costs.
Farmer’s Markets – Small Bills
Although many farmer’s markets now take credit cards, you can save yourself time when checking out if you have small bills – $5.00 and plenty of $1.00. Using cash also helps the farmer who must pay the card processing fee.
Farmer’s Markets – Possible Additional Discounts
If you are interested in freezing, drying, fermenting, or preserving many farmer’s markets vendors will discount whole boxes of fruits and vegetables. Some will offer almost wholesale pricing if you commit to purchasing every week.
Larger farmer’s markets may designate #1 and #2 fruits and vegetables. #2 means the item may not took as pretty but the flavor is the same. (These are especially useful if you are planning on preserving for the winter). Cases of #2 produce can be as much as 50% off. Make sure and thoroughly check the produce before purchasing to ensure quality.
Celebrate your farmer’s markets and your local farmers.
Buy fresh, buy local and buy in season.