I’m a huge supporter of eating fresh, unprocessed foods whenever possible; which is one of the reasons I love shopping at farmers markets.
In addition to locally grown produce, most markets also sell homemade jams, breads, regional meats, cheeses and honey. These days, with markets popping up everywhere, it’s usually pretty easy to find one close to your home. Whether you’re a novice market shopper or a longtime supporter here are a few tips that can help you be a smarter shopper.
1. Know what’s in season.
Farmers’ markets offer produce that reflect the most delicious flavors of the season. Fruits and vegetables are picked at their ripest point, which means they are more nutrient dense, and tend to last longer than their supermarket counterparts. Eating in season can be a real treat, so plan to build your menus around what’s fresh in order to take full advantage of the earth’s bounty.
2. Shop early or shop late
If you want your pick of the highest quality produce early mornings at the market are your best bet. Though, if you are looking for a deal and don’t care about imperfections, head to the market near closing time, when farmers are trying to sell off the rest of their goods and will offer them at lower prices.
3. Go prepared
Bring cash & your own reusable bags. Most markets are cash only, so be sure to stop at the ATM in advance. I also suggest getting more cash than you think you’ll need, for those items you weren’t planning to buy.
4. Try something new.
Why choose the same fruit or vegetable when there is so much fresh, in season produce available. Step outside the box and try something that looks intriguing. If you aren’t sure how to prepare it…ask the farmer!
5. Make connections
Get to know the farmers; they will be able to give you insight into what they are selling, when it was harvested or if it was organically grown. Farmers are a wealth of information and can teach you things like how to select the best fruits and vegetables, so don’t hesitate to ask questions.
Most importantly remember that the produce you are getting at the farmers’ market is going to be some of the best tasting food you can find. Though you may be tempted to cook it down and laden it with sauce sometimes eating fruits and vegetables close to its natural state is not a bad thing.
Carrot Slaw (printable recipe) 4 Large Carrots, shredded 1 Tablespoons of Balsamic Vinegar 2 Tablespoons of Extra Virgin olive oil 2 Teaspoons of Dijon Mustard 1 Tablespoon Fresh Basil, chopped salt and pepper
Whisk together all of the dressing ingredients until thick. Pour over carrots and toss to coat. Season with salt and pepper and serve immediately.