A How To Guide - Navigating Your Local Farmer’s Market

Walking through your local farmer’s market can be daunting to the inexperienced. If you are not a professional chef (like our Chef Jeff) who is familiar a wide array of ingredients, if you are unsure of what is in season or if you are overwhelmed by the number of options for one simple ingredient, do not be afraid! All you need are some insider tips and tricks to become a seasoned farmer’s market shopper.  Here’s how to make the most of your trip:

Bring a large reusable bag or basket to carry all your groceries.  Many stands offer a small brown bag or a clear bag for smaller purchases. If you are buying anything larger in quantity, definitely bring a larger bag. Plus, you will need one hand free to grab at the free samples!

Get there early! While going late can have its perks, such as discounts, anyone going as soon as the market opens will have the best selection. Most stands do not restock so when they are out of most items they will pack it up and head out. If the farmer’s market nearest you runs mid-week, try to go on your lunch break because there will be less of a crowd and more options!

Take your time. Do not be overwhelmed by how many stands are selling apples or tomatoes. When you first enter the market, take a lap around before you do any shopping. Not all fruits and vegetables are the same quality. Take the time to see what everyone is offering and then go back to the ones that look good or have the best price.

Photo by Kylie Mazon

Take advantage of samples.  Stands often offer samples to passing customers. Samples let you taste the quality of the product before buying and allows you to experience what variety of a product you like best. Stands selling peaches, apples, grapes and oranges are most likely to be handing out samples. Etiquette tip:  don’t take an offer of free samples as an invitation to eat all the fruit without paying for it. Limit your samples to one or two and then decide if there is anything worth buying.

Ask questions.  While you enjoy a sample, ask questions. Most people working at the stands are very knowledgeable about the products they sell and can offer ideas of what to cook with a certain fruit, vegetable or herb.  They can also advise you on the best way to store the produce.  They may give you a great idea on trying to cook with something you have never used before.

Photo by Kylie Mazon

Bring cash! In a world where most places of business take debit or credit, it is way easier to buy things in cash here since you are paying small amounts of money at different stands. If you are lucky a few stands might take card but most are cash only. Do you really want a charge on your debit card for $2.00 anyway?

Learn what’s in season in your area. What is in season varies state by state as well as by each month. Epicurious has a great map detailing just that. You can find it HERE

Photo by Kylie Mazon

Lastly, don’t forget the flowers to brighten your kitchen or table; they sell those too!

By Kylie Mazon

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