Farmer's Market Shopping: 101

Ever go to a farmers market, get excited by all of the colorful selections and buy several things that you don't even know what to do with? {hands raised} I have! Well below are some tips that will hopefully help you shop better at The Heritage Farmer's Market. 

1. Go early or go late: Markets tend to be less crowded right when they open or just before they close (there are many, many exceptions to this, so try going to your market at different times to figure out the best time for you).
For the best selection, go to the farmers market early. The best goods go first. Popular-but-limited items may even sell out before the day is done. It’s as simple as that.

2. Bring big bags and small change: Some farmers market vendors offer bags, but they tend to be thin and flimsy plastic ones that groan under the pressure of any substantial produce purchase. Make sure everything gets home from the farmers market without crashing onto the sidewalk or spilling onto the floor of your car by bringing your own sturdy canvas or nylon bags. A backpack can make the hauling easier, especially for weighty or bulky items.
Although vendors will make change, purchases will go easier and faster if you have exact (or close to exact) change. At some farmers markets "small change" means dimes and nickels. In larger urban areas many products at farmers markets are sold in dollar or fifty-cent increments.

3. Sketch meals ahead of time: Since you know what you're likely to find at the farmers market, you can do a bit of meal planning and shop accordingly. For example, if local asparagus has just come into season and you can't get enough, you know you'll want to eat some Roasted Asparagus, some cooked into a Asparagus Chickpea Soup, and some sliced raw in an Asparagus Butter Lettuce Salad. So you'll know both how many bunches of asparagus to buy and that you'll also need some spring onions or herbs to add to the soup and some salad greens.

4. Plan for spontaneity: Yes, you’ll fare better if you plan your trip to the farmers market. However, you need to leave a bit of wiggle room for those strawberries you didn't know would be at market so early, or the zucchini blossoms you've never tried before. Trying new things is part of the fun of going to farmers markets.

5. Work in volume: The best deals at the farmers market are had when you buy in bulk. You'll enjoy the best flavors and the best prices when you buy lots of whatever is at its harvest peak. How to use it all up? Try new recipes with favorite vegetables or learn the lost art of preserving food. Freezing, canning, and drying are just some of the ways you can save seasonal tastes you find at the farmers market for later in the year.

Live Well!

1 comment

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