In my last post, I addressed the benefits of shopping your local farmers market – the most important being produce freshness.  In order to make the best out of your trip, here are several tips that will improve your shopping experience.

Shopping the farmers market is quite different from going to your local grocer

Before you venture out, there is some planning and preparation you may want to consider.

Here are a few of my suggestions to consider before you leave the house and head to the farmer’s market:

  • Bring cash: most farmer’s won’t take credit cards, smaller bills are best
  • Have insulated freezer bags: great for fresh meat or other perishables
  • Carry a tote: it’s much easier to carry around your own tote for your produce than paper or plastic bags

Make the most of your farmers market experience

Take a full morning to walk through all the vendors, especially if it is your first trip. If your time is rushed, then you probably won’t get the best deals on organic foods – which just might leave you frustrated.

I recommend arriving early to take advantage of getting the best picks of everything. Some like to shop farmer’s markets later because farmers might mark down their unsold produce or items at the end of the day. However, if you are looking for particular items, don’t wait too late or they will all be sold out.

When you arrive at a farmer’s market, make your rounds before you buy.  In my experience, many farmers will sell similar items, but at different prices.  I once bought a bunch of sweet corn, only to find it several stalls down for nearly half of what I paid.

Take this leisurely time making rounds to talk to the farmers

You can ask a farmer or vendor for the seconds, which are imperfect and bruised items that are marked down.

If you’re looking for organically grown produce items, this is a great time to ask farmers about their growing process. Remember, just because food isn’t “Certified Organic,” doesn’t mean it’s not organic.  Certification is extremely expensive.

One of the hardest things to do is not to buy too much! 

With all that fresh, beautiful food around you, it is really easy to go overboard with buying too much.  Remember, the produce from farmers markets is ripe and fresh, so it may only last a few days. Go with menu plan for the week so you don’t over buy and none of it goes to waste!

As you get more familiar with shopping the farmers market, you might have your favorites that you buy week after week.  I encourage you to try something new each time you shop. If you’re not sure how to prepare a new item, ask the farmer to give you their favorite preparation technique.

Two of the best things to buy at the farmers market are meat and eggs

Store bought meat is:

  • Extremely high in pesticides because of what the animal is fed and raised
  • Contains antibiotics and growth hormones because of how the animal was raised

Store bought eggs are bleached and pasteurized (heated at a high temp for a short time), which can destroy nutrients.  They are also likely to be weeks to a month old, at best.  At the farmers market, the eggs where likely collected that week.  They are not pasteurized and they all retain their beautiful array of shell colors.

Shopping your local farmers market is the easiest way to ensure that what you’re buying is seasonal, fresh and local.

If you’ve never been to a farmers market, it is time to experience the avenue of folding tables full of fresh vegetables and fruit, locally grown, with a myriad of other delectables. 

So, whether you are a casual browser or serious shopper, it is time to visit a farmers market for access to fresh, healthy and affordable food so you can significantly reduced the cost of eating a nutritionally balanced meal.  Today, you can buy almost everything you need to get healthy and stay healthy at a farmers market.

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