Home & Living
9 Tips for Making the Most of Your Farmers Market Run
The farmers market is our go-to for the freshest local produce around. Make your trip even better with our best farmers market shopping tips.
Do a lap first
Avoid buyers remorse at the farmers market by making a quick lap through the market before buying anything. This will help you scope out which stands have the best-looking produce (though there is a case for imperfect produce) and the best deals on eggs.
Of course, there are exceptions to every rule. If you want to grab a cup of coffee or the very last scone on your first walkthrough, we don’t blame you.
Bring your bags
First and foremost, bringing your own reusable totes to the market is good for the planet. You should bring them everywhere (just be sure to wash them regularly).
But also be sure to bring as many as you can handle. You’ll want sturdy totes to carry all of those unexpected bargains you might find. You don’t want to rely on flimsy plastic bags to take home a few dozen ears of sale price sweet corn. In the market for a new reusable bag? We’ve picked out our favorites.
Know what’s in season
Everything at your farmers market should be local, however, it’s not always in season. Some produce may be holdovers from the previous season—this is often the case with the root vegetables you see at spring markets (they do store remarkably well, though).
For the freshest options, know what fruits and vegetables are in season. Here’s what you should be choosing by season:
Bring small bills
Many vendors at today’s markets accept cards, but cash is quicker and more convenient for sellers—especially if you’re ready with small bills. Ready yourself with singles, fives and tens and your shopping trip will go smoothly. This is just one of the things every farmers market vendor wishes you knew.
Chat with vendors
Be sure to chat with the farmers and vendors at your local markets. These folks are the experts when it comes to their products. You’ll find that these farmers and producers are happy to fill you in on the best prep techniques and can even provide you with a recipe or two.
And there are benefits of being a regular. You might find yourself getting a deal or two for being a repeat customer and a friendly face.
Learn to pick perfect produce
This is important at both the grocery store and the farmers market. Familiarize yourself with the techniques you need to pick the freshest and tastiest fruits and veggies. Here are our tips for picking the best sweet corn, green beans, melon and all kinds of other produce.
If you’re really unsure, you can always ask the vendors what bunch of tomatoes or watermelon looks good to them.
Buy in bulk
If you’re making a big batch of marinara sauce or your signature jam, chances are you’ll be stocking up on fresh ingredients. Ask vendors if they offer any discounts for buying in large quantities. You can walk away with a great deal when you buy a whole bushel of tomatoes of several quarts of berries.
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Try something new
We all have our favorite stalls and products at the farmers market (can anyone resist fresh strawberries?), but don’t limit yourself to just your go-tos. Next time you’re at the local market grab one or two new-to-you items. You might find a new appreciation for morel mushrooms, jicama or another slightly out of the box ingredient.
And if you’re unsure how to make use of these new finds, ask the farmers. They’re your best resource.
Consider a CSA
If you’re serious about local produce, but can’t always make it to the farmers market, consider signing up for a CSA (community supported agriculture). CSAs are essentially an old school food subscription box. Farmers fill them with a share of their crops from the week and they are available for you to pick up—some even deliver. You might have to get creative when you get a bumper crop of zucchini or some kohlrabi, but these boxes can provide you with some great deals and even greater produce all without the hustle and bustle of the market.