Local Produce: How To Buy
Shopping at farmers markets is the easiest way to eat locally. It can make a wonderful family outing and offers a great experience for grown-ups and children alike. A bit of planning can keep shopping for produce at a farmers' market fun and budget-friendly, and make eating fresh produce very enjoyable. Here are some tips on how to best shop the farmers' market.
1. Know Your Seasons
If you know a bit of what to expect when you get to the farmers market, making decisions about what to buy is much easier. Learn what grows when and talk to the growers about what will be coming to market in upcoming weeks. To learn more about seasonal eating, print out the handy "What's In Season" wallet card from Eat Local Placer Nevada! (Download PDF)
2. Go Early or Go Late
For the best selection, go to the farmers market early. Some goods run out quickly!
For the best deals, go to the farmers market late. Farmers and other vendors sometimes prefer to discount products instead of loading them back up and taking them home.
3. Ask About Seconds
Often farmers will have "seconds" that are not on display. Being a "second" does not necessarily mean the produce is spoiled, it just may not look perfect. Farmers' are often willing to sell seconds cheaper because it is not perfect, but often you need to ask.
4. Bring Big Bags & Small Change
Some farmers market vendors offer bags, but they tend to be thin plastic ones that groan under the pressure of any substantial produce purchase. Make sure everything gets home from the farmers market in one piece by bringing your own sturdy canvas or nylon bags, or a big basket. A backpack can make the hauling easier, especially for weighty or bulky items. And kids can put their special purchases in their own small bags or baskets!
Although vendors will make change, they appreciate exact (or close to exact) change. Purchases will go easier and faster, too.
5. 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. Let your kids help you pick out new items and let them help prepare them at home.
6. Get Advice
If you find a vegetable that’s new to you at the farmers market and want to give it a try, ask the farmer how to prepare it. For the best tips specifically ask how they like to eat it. If it is something that can be eaten raw, the farmer will often give samples to try.
7. Return Home Promptly
Because most produce at the farmers' market is picked at the peak of ripeness, it will also spoil more quickly. Buy only the produce you can consume within the week and get it home quickly. Things can go bad much quicker during the hot summer months, especially if left in a hot car. Once home, put produce away quickly.