Spring is here, and that means farmers’ markets will soon be filled with lots of farm-fresh produce for you to purchase and enjoy! Farmers’ markets are a great place to shop because you know where the food came from, the produce is fresh, and the prices are usually much lower than what you will find at most grocery stores!

To make your farmers’ market trip even more enjoyable, here are some tips to help make you a smart farmers’ market shopper:

  • Experiment by trying something new. Farmers’ markets are a great place to taste test fruits and veggies that you have never had before. Most vendors enjoy providing samples of their food items, and of course want to make a sale. Vendors can also give you tips on how to prepare them. Taste testing before making a purchase also prevents you from wasting money on something that you might not like when you get home.
  • Don’t assume that the produce is organic. Even if a vendor claims their produce is USDA organicorganic, be sure to look for the USDA Organic stamp. Some farmers use organic farming methods, but their produce may not be certified organic by the USDA.
  • Arrive early. It’s not unusual for vendors to sell out of their more popular food items, so be sure to arrive early at your farmers market early so you don’t miss out on the best selections. Even though vendors do tend to offer discounts towards the end of the market so they don’t have to take unsold items back with them, keep in mind that this food may have been sitting out for many hours unrefrigerated.
  • Plan ahead. If you will not be going straight home after your farmers’ market trip, be sure to bring some insulated bags with you so your purchases don’t spoil while sitting in your car. Insulated bags are also much sturdier than the plastic bags that most vendors have available. Keep in mind that some U.S. cities have banned, or are considering banning, the use of plastic bags as well.
  • Bring cash with you. Most vendors at farmers’ markets either do not take credit cards, or prefer not to take credit cards due to transaction fees. Therefore, make sure to bring cash for your purchases. Vendors also prefer small bills.

Enjoy your trip to the farmers’ market and remember – eat more fruit and veggies!

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