One of our favorite summer activities has to be wandering our farmers’ markets and taking advantage of all the local produce. We do this so often that we’ve come up with 4 tips for making the most of each farmers’ market visit.
1. Make a Plan
You use a shopping list at the grocery store; why not the farmers’ markets too? A list helps focus your visit and prevent over- and under-buying. But part of the thrill of farmers’ markets is the seasonality, freshness and “in the moment” of the season, so do allow yourself to take advantage of what’s there; the list will assure that you leave with what you came for.
2. Fuel Up, Start Early & Come Prepared
It’s a good idea to make sure you (and your car!) are fueled up before hitting the market, so have a little something for breakfast. And if you can, get to the market as close to opening time as possible – you’ll find the best selection, fewer crowds and cooler temperatures.
At farmers’ markets, cash is king. Farmers and vendors don’t always have change on hand to break large bills (especially early in the day), so have a variety of cash for easy transactions.
We always have several reusable shopping bags in our car and use them at farmers’ markets too. A collapsible shopping cart will help prevent achy arms, and a cooler with frozen bottles of water in the trunk will help keep produce, cheese and meats cold for the trip home.
3. Do a Walk-Through
Before hitting the ground running, walk through the market and assess what’s available, compare prices and take stock of quality. After that, go back to the vendors that have the best of what you’re looking for.
4. Get to Know Growers
Establish relationships with the growers of the food you buy – they’re excited to share what they do and are likely interested in your plans to use their produce. If you pickle or can their vegetables or fruits, share a jar with them. They’d love to sample the “fruits” of their labor!