If you’ve considered visiting a Farmer’s Market but have been afraid to, listen up – no time is a better time than right now! Barring the dead of winter, wonderful produce, meats and local goodies can be found at your market almost year round. Plus there are plenty of awesome benefits when you shop at a farmer’s market – you’re helping your local economy, eating healthier and possibly saving a few pennies too. Read on for a slew of Farmer’s Market tips from our seasoned RELAXnation staffers.
Know thy season
If you’re produce ignorant (and it’s ok if you are), do a little research before you go. Find out what’s in season for your area so you can avoid paying more for out of season items. Once at the market, ask growers what will be available in upcoming weeks.
You should also check this handy “When is it worth buying organic?” guide from LearnVest We also recommend that you skip the exotic produce and choose items you’re familiar with during your first few visits.
Try to do a bit of meal planning before you head to the market. It’ll keep you from overdoing it (all that beautiful produce can be SO tempting!). If meal planning isn’t your thing, stick to 2-3 veggies and 2-3 fruits per week, plus 1-2 fresh herbs. This doesn’t count lettuce or “seasoning” vegetables such as onions and garlic.
It’s simple: For the best selection, get there early. For the best deals, get there late. Vendors usually discount items instead of loading them back up.
Bring a few plastic bags or a large tote bag to carry your goods. If you find yourself buying a lot, you may want to consider a wheeled cart. But beware: a lot of farmer’s markets are in tight spaces so pay attention to where you’re going!
If you’re anything like us, you probably rarely carry cash. Well, you’re not going to get very far at a farmer’s market, so make sure you have cash on hand. Also, your transactions will go much quicker if you use fives, ones and loose change.
When you first arrive, make a quick spin around the market to see who’s got what, how everything looks and prices.
Keep in mind that this food will be coming to you before being processed. Produce may look “dirty” or fresh out the ground. It’s ok. It’s called NATURE. Just clean it when you get home.
For the best cooking advice, ask farmers and vendors how they like to prepare their goods. Once home, be sure to preserve the wonderful natural flavors of your fresh produce and avoid overcooking.
To keep your fresh items as fresh as possible, allot time to properly store your produce as soon as you get home. Again, ask your farmer for tips or consult this storage guide from Vegetarian Times. The prep may seem time consuming, but it’ll save your tasty goodies from spoilage.
Now that we’ve shared our tips, do you have any to add?
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