My idea of a perfect weekend morning starts with a trip to the farmers market. I just simply cannot resist the rows and rows of fresh produce, bright flowers and locally-produced goods. Plus, I strive to shop local as much as possible and prefer to support small businesses. And really, nothing tastes better than fresh produce and you deserve to feed your body the best!
However, I totally understand going to a farmers market can be as overwhelming as it is fun. Often times we arrive with our reusable tote bag, ready to fill it to the brim with leafy greens and juicy berries. Instead we eat a sprinkle-covered donut, buy a new scarf and leave… um, been there, done that (For the record, the donut was amazing and the scarf was super soft).
But since neither of these things puts food in my fridge, I’ve come up with a few handy tips that help me make the most of my time at the farmers market — meaning I come home with groceries and still have time to explore all the other uniques vendors the market has to offer.
Look at all your options first
I always try to walk around the whole market before I purchase anything, especially if the market is new to me. I’ve been going to the same farmers market for a few years and it still amazes how many new vendors pop up! Anyway, take a look around and see which vegetables are for sale and for how much. Do the cucumbers cost twice as much at one table or are there four different varieties of tomatoes at another? Make sure to keep all these things in mind as you move to tip number 2.
Talk to the farmers
Remember those cucumbers? Maybe they cost twice as much because they are organically-grown and the others are not. It’s your decision whether to choose organic or not, but at least now you know. Most farmers are more than happy to chat with you about their farms and what types of practices they use. Additionally, you’ll be able to learn if the vendor is actually the producer because believe it or not, sometimes they aren’t! Last year I saw a vendor at our market selling Georgia peaches, which is all well and good, but certainly not local (I’m in Illinois).
Meal plan before you go
If you can, create a weekly meal plan or at least have a couple meal ideas in mind before you arrive at the market. Doing so allows you to focus on which produce items you really need and will use. No one wants to come home with a bag of veggies you don’t know what to do with. That being said, a farmers market is a great place to try new things. Many vendors will offer you samples of their produce if you ask or will sell you a smaller amount than you might find in a grocery store. Why not make it a weekly goal to try one new vegetable a week?