Fresh and inexpensive food may seem like an impossibility, but if you have a thriving farmers market in your area, you may be pleasantly surprised. With local produce available throughout the growing seasons and the ability to buy directly from farmers, there’s no doubt that a bustling farmers market is a boon to its surrounding community. If you want to make the most out of your next farmers market visit, these tips will come in handy.
Get There Early
Buying from a local farmer means you are supporting a real person’s livelihood and you are getting the freshest food available. The only downside? Your local mom and pop-style farms only have so much produce available. Arriving too close to the market’s closing time can mean you miss out.
Bring a Basket
Most market vendors will not have a bag for your items, and walking around the market trying to balance a bundle of carrots, a fresh baguette and a dozen cage-free eggs isn’t a relaxing shopping experience. Choose the easy and eco-friendly route by opting to bring your own reusable bag or basket. You won’t end up dropping your fresh finds and there are few things as picturesque as a basket bursting with beautiful produce.
Opt to Bring a Small Cooler
A basket can be an ideal companion at your market, but some farmers markets have vendors offering meats, dairy and other foods that require refrigeration. A small cooler or lunchbox can act as an extra basket while shopping and simultaneously can keep your food safe from overheating.
Ask Thoughtful Questions
Vendors join the market because they want to earn money, but also to foster their community. Ask questions about their pesticide use, animal husbandry practices and other areas of interest. It can be helpful when choosing your favorites. Some farmers will even happily offer good customers a few tips on growing your own versions of their crops at home. Just be aware of the crowds and don’t chat while others are waiting.
Look for Deals
By buying ugly produce, searching for end-of-day sales and asking for bulk discounts, you can save a bit of cash. Another trick? It can be an investment to become certified organic, so finding a farm that uses organic practices but isn’t certified can cut costs. Just keep in mind, some farmers markets have rules disallowing vendors from offering certain discounts. A deal is great, but avoid haggling. You’re boosting your local economy, after all.