1. HUG Your Farmer
Try to be friendly with the vendors – a little bit goes a long way. Engage with them, ask questions. If customers let farmers know what they are looking for, they will go out of their way to try to meet your expectations. If you place your orders ahead or online, it will make sure that your favorites won’t be sold out and you won’t be disappointed.
2. FARMERS MARKETS are not just about PRODUCE anymore
You can find delectable meats and fish stands selling food that is better than what you can get at the supermarket or “big box” stores. Bring a cooler so you won’t have to rush home.
3. SMALL BILLS ARE KING!
4. TASTE THE PRODUCE
Yes, you should always ask to taste the produce, even if it is not on the “free sample” tray. This is standard practice. Nibble a couple of sugar snaps or taste a strawberry…just don’t make a MEAL out of it!
5. GO EARLY
Want to see what all the fuss is about? Show up early, right when the market opens. That’s when the product is at its most beautiful, before the products and the weather heat up. This way you can peruse leisurely without the instagramming tourists. Keep your eyes peeled for “chefs” making their daily runs-they may lead you to some hidden gems.
6. GO LATE
Sure, the produce is most perfect first thing, but right at the end before everyone is packing up is when you will get the best deals. No farmer wants to go home with unsold produce, so if you’re the “haggling” type, now is the time to make them an offer they can’t refuse-a half-price case of tomatoes for sauces, say. You may not find what you went for, but everyone leaves happy!
7. Never Show Up Without a TOTE
8. A little Hole in the Apple isn’t going to hurt!
9. Shop a WEEK AHEAD
Ask farmers when they expect to have certain items and produce. You can plan and make your order in advance… You can buy in bulk at the end of strawberry season, you can get a whole flat for freezing or jam-making, or that large batch of hamburger meat for your big Bar B Q.
10. Markets are for WALKING…not biking, skateboarding or scootering
Think of the great EXERCISE.
11. TRY SOMETHING NEW…why NOT??
It’s easy to become a creature of habit at the market. but try to push yourself to try something new each week. Don’t hesitate to ask the farmer what to do with items new to you. Google is a great resource!! It may not pan out, but at least you took a new adventure!!
12. BE PICKY…but not TOO picky
Everyone loves a perfect PLUM, but picking out 10 perfect plums, while handling at least 30 from a pile is a definite “no-no”. Not to mention, aggravating the folks waiting patiently in line behind you.
13. PLAN or NO PLAN???
Some folks never write a menu until they meet something great at the farmers market. Making a plan is like “naming a puppy, before you get it.” Smell, taste, look, talk to your farmer – just use your senses and find out what speaks to you.
ASK A FARMER: How can I be a better shopper?? Small family farmers wish you understood that local farms are not national companies that can ship things from everywhere and have the ability to pack things in huge manufacturing facilities and ship them in semi’s across the country.
They are working day and night, carefully growing and raising your food for you. KNOW YOUR FARMER!!