Farmer’s markets can be an amazing way to get the most nutrient-rich fruits, veggies, eggs, and meats – even beautiful flowers, but there are some important things to know and some common mistakes to avoid to better navigate your way around and make the most out of your experience.
BEFORE YOU GO
- Set yourself up for success by bringing some key items with you!
- Bring your own bags
- Reusable grocery bags or baskets are great to bring with you because not all vendors have plastic bags to give you, it’s better for the environment, and they’re easier to carry than plastic bags that might break.
- A cooler tote with ice packs is helpful if you plan to buy dairy products, meats, or any items that need to be kept cold to preserve their freshness.
- Bring cash, including small bills
- Not all vendors accept credit cards, so you’re better safe than sorry! Plus, it also saves the farmers’ credit card processing fees too.
- Arrive when the market opens
- When you get there early, you get access to the best selection before they run out, and you can snag the freshest looking items!
AT THE FARMER’S MARKET
- When I get there, I like to do a lap around first to see what’s available and do some price comparing before I start committing and buying things.
- The ideal thing I’m looking for is locally grown + organically grown
- Just because something is sold at a farmer’s market, does not guarantee:
- it was grown locally
- it was grown without using synthetic pesticides
- Locally grown is important to me because it’s oftentimes cheaper than grocery store AND it’s usually more flavorful & more nutritious
- The reason for that is because right after produce is harvested, it starts to lose nutrients. So you have a much better chance of getting it closer to that point if it is grown locally than if it is being shipped in from other parts of the country or world.
- Plus you’re supporting your local farmers and your local community
- Organically grown or grown without synthetic pesticides or herbicides is important to me because it’s generally healthier for the body not only now, but long term for preventative health
- Research has shown in so many studies over the years that regular exposure to synthetic pesticides has been linked to increased risk of a laundry list of health concerns. Better safe than sorry!
- To identify locally grown + organically grown produce at the market:
- Look on the sticker. If the item has a small circle sticker, look at the code. If you see a 5-digit number that starts with a 9 that means the item is organically grown. If you see a 4-digit code beginning with a 3 or a 4 means the produce is conventionally grown
- If you don’t see a sticker or signs up at the table, just ask the farmer
- Organic certification is expensive, so some is organically grown and just doesn’t have the USDA logo on it, but just as safe
- Just ask: “Have these been treated with synthetic pesticides?”
- Some other helpful questions to ask the farmer:
- If you see a food or ingredient you’ve never seen before, ask the farmer what it is, how to pick a fresh one, and the best way to prepare or cook it. Discover some new fun foods to add variety to your diet!
- If you’re buying meat or fish you can ask “Are your chickens/pigs pasture raised?” “Were the cows raised on a grass fed and finished diet?” “Is this fish wild caught?”
- You can also pre-order foods if you really want to make sure something is there when you get it – I do that with chicken feet for my homemade bone broth recipe!
MONEY SAVING TIPS
- Go close to when they close: farmers often discount food 10-20% just to get it sold so they don’t have to lug it back.
- Buy in bulk: a whole box or case is oftentimes discounted. If you can’t eat it all, see if you can split with a friend.
- Buy the ugly produce: it is oftentimes a money saver because it can be harder to sell (check thoroughly first to make sure still fresh)