Whether you are looking to support local farmers, trying to source your food locally, or just looking for a great deal on some really fresh food, the farmer’s market may be the answer to your prayers. In addition to gaining access to food grown near your home, you also have the benefit of getting to know the people who are providing that food and getting a feel for where your food really comes from. But even for seasoned shoppers, the farmer’s market can be a bit overwhelming. There are so many great things to choose from and so many new and interesting things to try that it is easy to go there for one thing and leave with a big bag of food you don’t even know how to use.
Following these great tips will help you make the most of your visit to the farmer’s market.
1. Be Early
If you want the best selection, come early. You will find the widest variety and have the pick of the crop if you arrive right when the market opens. If you are shopping for something specific, make sure you make an effort to be early.
2. Be Late
If you want the best price, come late. Later in the day the selection may not be as great but farmers may be more willing to make a deal or take a little less for the items they have leftover. If you are there late, try to negotiate the price if the farmer doesn’t offer a deal.
3. Season Matters
Shopping at the farmer’s market isn’t like shopping in a supermarket. The selection will be based on what it in season. You aren’t likely to find apples in April or potatoes in May. Although, here in Arizona you may be surprised how much you can find all year round. For an idea of what is in season each month, check the Arizona Produce in Season section of Fill Your Plate.
4. Bring Bags
Bring your own bags and the bigger and heftier they are the better. Not all farmers’ market stalls will provide bags but when they do, those bags may not be up to holding the 5 full grown turnips you just got a great deal on. Protect your purchases and help farmer’s keep their costs down by brining your own bags.
5. Carry Change
If you come to the famers market with a handful of 20s, you might spend half your time trying to find someone who can make change. Fill your pocket with small bills that make it easy to pay for your purchases.
6. Plan Ahead
The best way to make it through the market without a bag of beautiful food you will never use is to plan ahead. If you know what you want to make this week, you can be on the lookout for those items.
7. Ask Questions
One of the best ways to learn how to cook that vegetable you have never seen before is to ask the farmer that grew it. Odds are if they grow it, they eat it and can offer tips on turning it into a great dish.
8. Buy in Bulk
A great way to get a great price is to buy in bulk. If you are looking for several bushels of something, ask the farmer if they offer any kind of bulk discount.
9. Don’t Go Overboard
It is easy to over buy when there is so much fantastic food to be found, but try not to buy more than you will use. It doesn’t do any good to get a great deal on a bulk buy of tomatoes if you have no way to use them all before they go bad.
10. Open Your Mind
It is almost as important to be spontaneous in your farmer’s market purchases as it is to plan ahead. Make room for fabulous finds you didn’t know to look for and make a habit of trying something new every week.
- 10 Tips for Enhancing Your Farmer’s Market Shopping Experience (fillyourplate.org)
- Ask a Farmer: Questions Moms Ask Arizona Farmers (fillyourplate.org)
- Getting Creative with Kale (fillyourplate.org)