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 organic, 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.
When you get home from the farmers market, be sure to store your fruit and vegetables properly so they stay fresh as long as possible. I use these Rubbermaid FreshWorks storage containers for storing my produce in the refrigerator, and I have noticed that it tends to stay fresh longer since I started using these containers. They also stack nicely in my refrigerator.
Now when you shop at a farmers market, have you ever found some vendors that you really like, and by the time you got home, forgotten who those vendors were? This can be very frustrating, especially the next time you go to the farmers market and want to buy from that vendor again. Or maybe you’ve forgotten where at the farmers market your favorite vendors are located?
My Farmers Market Shopping List can help solve these frustrations for you. Use it to keep track of your favorite farmers market locations (including their location, days, and times), and your favorite vendors at each farmers market. Plus, you can specify if your favorite vendors sell certified organic and/or non-GMO food, and your favorite items that these vendors carry. Of course, there are places to make your own notes as well.
Enjoy your trip to the farmers market and remember – eat more fruit and veggies!