Local Farmer's Market Tips
Farmers markets are a great way to eat locally! I love a good farmers market.
Here are some tips for shopping at a farmers market:
1) Bring your own bags. It's the eco-friendly thing to do, of course! And sometimes they bags they have at farmers markets can be really flimsy. You wouldn't want them to break and have all of your delicious and local apples roll away, would you?
2) Bring cash and bring smaller bills. Sometimes the people working at the stalls might not be able to give you change for a $20 bill after you bought a few dollars worth of peaches.
3) Go early, or go late. The best stuff is there early, but if you go late you can get the best deals. A lot of times you can get a bargain on fruit or vegetables towards the end, because the farmers don't feel like reloading their goods.
4) Expect more than just produce! I've found all sorts of gems at farmers markets, from locally produced cheese, to handmade soap, to homemade baked goods. Yum! I used to frequent a farmers market where they had a stand selling homemade samosas, chutney, and naan. Delicious. One that I've visited recently had some amazing cheese. I must have sampled a dozen before deciding on what to buy.
5) Ask about their use of pesticides. Many items might actually be organic, but certification can be pricey, so some farmers opt not to be certified organic in spite of growing their items in an organic, pesticide-free fashion.
6) Go weekly! That way you have fresh produce every week.
7) Know your area and the seasons. Learn what grows in your area during a given season, so you know what you're getting is local.
8) Find out where and when your local farmers markets are. The USDA website has a search function so you can find local farmers markets. I found that their search by zip code function didn't work very well, so it's easier to look by city or state.
9) Have fun! Farmers markets can be a fun thing to do as a family. Some larger farmers markets have live music. Many stalls have free samples, so if you want to try something new before buying it, go for it!