Shopping at a farmers' market is the EASIEST way to eat locally.
You'll get the FRESHEST foods at CHEAPER prices and you'll know exactly where your food is from. After all, the grower is right there in front of you so you can ask them yourself!
We LOVE shopping locally so much, that when Saturday hits, Erich and I can't wait to peruse the aisles, head to our favorite stands and chat with the farmers (kinda like a mid-morning date while grocery shopping). Not only is it fun to sample the amazing food and listen to live music, there's nothing better than getting the freshest foods to add to our weekly meals while socializing.
If you've never been to a farmers' market before, knowing what to expect can be a bit overwhelming.
I still remember the first time I went to a farmer's market alone. Before going, I bought a colorful market basket, thinking it would help disguise the fact that I was a total newbie. When Saturday arrived, I grabbed my basket and headed out the door, ready to take on whatever was thrown my way. I walked into the market, glanced around at all the aisles and nearly turned around and headed for the hills! But, with a few deep breaths and a game plan, I pulled it together and got some AMAZING produce. After that, I was hooked!
With a little planning and these simple tips, you too can make shopping at your local farmer's market fresh and fun!
First and foremost, find out where the closest farmers' market is. Google is a great resource for this.
If it's your first trip, keep it simple! Don't go with the intention of buying an entire week's worth of groceries. In fact, there's nothing wrong with NOT buying anything the first time you go! Grab a latte, peruse the aisles, maybe snack on a sample or two and familiarize yourself for next time.
Shop seasonally. Look into what produce is in season and map out your meals for the upcoming week accordingly. When it's strawberry season, we get fresh berries to top our breakfast each morning. If zucchini is in season, we make zucchini lasagna. The beauty of shopping seasonally is you never get sick of certain foods, so take advantage of it while you can!
Make a list. Making a list and planning ahead helps keep you from feeling overwhelmed by all the delicious options. It also prevents you from heading home with three times the amount of produce that you need. Trust me, I know this from experience!
Bring cash. Many stands at the farmer's market accept cash only.
Take a basket or a few sturdy bags. Typically, you won't find shopping carts at the farmer's market. Unless you have arms like The Hulk, you'll want to take something that's sturdy and easy to carry. I keep a few canvas bags rolled up in my trunk and a market basket to grocery shop with . Not only are canvas bags and market baskets functional, you'll feel like you're part of an elite little group.
Once you get to the farmers' market
Go early for the best produce. Popular-but-limited foods often sell out before the end of the day, so if you go early you'll be sure to get what you're looking for. Also, when you go early you get first dibs on the best selections.
Take a quick lap! Before you buy anything, take a quick loop around the market. Often, you'll find more than one stand selling what you're looking for. Check prices and see whose produce looks the freshest. The more you shop, the more familiar you'll become with which stands you prefer shopping at. It took some trial and error, but now that I'm a farmer's market frequenter, I have my favorite stands already mapped out in my mind.
Ask questions! Don't hesitate to ask questions at each stand. If you want to know where their farm is located, ask. If you want to know what they feed their chickens before you purchase their eggs, ask. It may feel awkward at first, but honestly, the farmers appreciate your genuine interest in the hands it took to prepare the food.
If you're looking for discounted goodies
Go late for the best prices! If you go just before the farmers' market closes, some stands will reduce their prices in hopes of selling their remaining produce. The only problem is, you can't count on certain foods because they may already be sold out!
Buy in bulk. Almost all farmers will discount their prices if you buy in bulk. We do this a lot with seasonal produce, such as blueberries and zucchini, which we then freeze or can. Fruits are pretty easy to freeze and are great for year-round smoothies. If you're going to freeze veggies, check online to see if they should be blanched in water before you freeze them.
Ask for "seconds" If you plan on eating your produce in the next day or two, ask if they have any "seconds" for sale. Seconds are day-olds, meaning they're riper, and are often significantly discounted. If you don't plan on eating them right away, I would steer clear of seconds, unless you're going to freeze or can them. Organic strawberries and tomatoes are so expensive. When they're in season, I'll buy a big box of seconds, freeze the berries for smoothies and can homemade tomato sauce. It makes eating seasonal produce tasty and inexpensive year round!
Grocery shopping, especially at your local farmers' market, doesn't have to be boring.
Make it fun! Include your family in your farmers' market "field trip." Show them what local food looks like, let them talk to the farmers, ask questions and understand why eating local is LOVELY! Invite your friends. Grab a coffee with your bestie beforehand, shop together and make a morning (or afternoon) date out of it!
We promise you, once you see and taste how fresh and fantastic the food is at your local farmers' market, you'll never turn back!
Pam & Kalie
Find out where the closest farmers' market is and plan a trip. Consider inviting a friend or family member to tag along and make it a fun outing rather than a task to check off your list!
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