Like the fruit and vegetables they sell, the popularity of the farmers’ market shopping experience is growing.
“Farmers’ markets play an extremely important role for both farmers and consumers. They bring urban and rural communities together while creating economic growth and increasing access to fresh, healthy food.
So, if you’re a farmers’-market regular or newbie who favors fresh, healthy foods, we offer these nine shopping tips to help you reap the most benefits from your trip to the local farmers’ market.
1. Look before you buy
Stroll around the farmers’ market to get a sense of what’s available. As the seasons change, so do the selections.
“Don’t let your intended dinner recipe hijack your shopping experience, rather, draw inspiration from the sights, smells and tastes. Let the ingredients drive your menu rather than the other way around.”
2. Make a list
To ensure you’re sticking to your budget, create a shopping list so that you resist the urge to splurge.
3. Bring cash
More and more markets and vendors are accepting debit and credit cards, but more often than not, they want to be paid with small-denomination bills.
4. Bring your own bags
Some farmers’ markets offer only flimsy plastic bags, if they offer them at all, so we recommend bringing your own reusable bags. this benefits the environment by reducing reliance on plastic. It also helps vendors save money by allowing them to purchase fewer bags, he says.
5. Go early or go late
Showing up when a market first opens for the day or when it’s about to shut down enables you to purchase the cream of the crop (early) and to possibly score a deal (late).
If you arrive early, you’re more likely to snatch up coveted items like backyard eggs from the family hen or first-of-the-season asparagus. If you arrive late, you might find some vendors slashing their prices by as much as 50 percent to reduce their inventory.
6. Buy in bulk
Many farmers offer discounts if you buy fruit and vegetables in bulk, so be sure to inquire.
7. Mingle with other shoppers
It’s much more likely that you’ll strike up a conversation at a farmers’ market than at a grocery store. Take advantage of the built-in camaraderie to learn something new and even develop friendships.
8. Be inquisitive
Quizzing the vendors about things like farming practices, GMOs and organic foods. Or you might pick the brains of the vendors to get recipes and cooking ideas.
9. Make connections
If you truly get to know the vendors, you might be blessed with regular discounts — but you’ll definitely enjoy a more rewarding experience.
“Chat with your farmers, and truly connect with the ones you click with. Tell them about yourself and your unique background, and why it is important for you to get fresh produce.