Tips for Shopping Your Local Farmer’s Market
Farmer’s market fans, listen up! An RD bud of ours, Diane Henderiks, put together these 10 tips to make stocking up at the local market even easier. Read on & veg yourself!
Buying local and seasonal foods when possible is a great way to reduce your carbon footprint, support local farmers, save money and maximize nutrition, taste and freshness. The produce found at your local farmers’ market has been handled, refrigerated and stored less while coming to you at the peak of flavor and nutrition. Mother Nature’s local bounty is only available while the season is right and the crops are constantly changing, so you want to get what’s growing while it’s hot!
The way to do this is to make a trip to the farmers market a weekly ritual. Whether you are a first-timer or a veteran shopper, I’ve got 10 great tips to help you navigate the market, make the most of your visit and turn you into a market lover.
Diane’s Top 10 Farmers Market Shopping Tips
1. Never go shopping for food hungry.
Temptation rears its ugly head when food shopping, and remember, there is much more than produce at farmers markets! The baked treats, snacks, breads and sweets will be calling, so if you have a satisfied stomach, it will be easier to keep walking.
2. Know what’s growing in your area and when
It’s much easier to shop when you know what’s going to be there. Do a little research about what’s in season in your neck of the woods and find out what new items are arriving in weeks to come.
3. Bring your own bags and/or baskets
Burlap, canvas or nylon bags are much sturdier than the thin plastic ones that will be offered at the market. Bringing your own bag is also more earth-friendly. If you have baskets, bring them! This way, delicate foods like tomatoes, peaches and strawberries weather the transport home without being crushed.
4. Come early for the most choices but later for deals
The good stuff goes first in any grocery store, and the same goes for market produce. Also, it is less crowded early. As for the end of the day, that is when you may find the best deals. Items tend to be discounted at the end of the day to move it out before closing.
5. Do a walk through first
Circle the market once, formulate a plan and then make your decisions. It helps so that you don’t wind up overbuying and wasting food at home.
6. Meet the farmer
One of the great things about a farmers market is that you can talk to the person who grows the goodies. Ask how to select, prepare and cook foods you are unfamiliar with. If you want to taste something, just ask. Speak up and don’t be shy, farmers are a great source for cooking tips and recipe ideas.
7. Come with cash – especially George
Many farmers markets don’t take checks or credit cards so bring cash – especially small bills – and change to make it easier on customers waiting in line and the farmer.
8. Buy in bulk
Buy a large quantity of what has been harvested at its peak. This will save you money and help you experiment with new ways of preparing and storing seasonal foods for later in the year.
9. Experiment with the unknown
Trying a new food every time you go to the farmers market is a big part of the overall experience and a great way to eat more fruits & veggies. Who knows, you may discover some new favorites!
10. Bring the kids
If you have kids, bring them! They will be much more interested in trying new things from the market than they are at a big store and this technology-free experience is so needed.
Diane Henderiks is a Registered Dietitian, personal chef and caterer in New Jersey. She travels the country sharing her food and nutrition expertise on stage at the nations top food and wine events and television shows. For more of her recipes, tips and tricks visit http://www.dishwithdiane.com, and join her on Twitter and Facebook.