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Monday, June 15, 2009

Top ten tips for shopping the farmers market

1. View the farmers market as entertainment, not a chore. It really is fun. Think how much produce you can buy for the cost of taking your family to a Saturday matinée. Encourage your friends and neighbors to join you on your outing.

2. Take your children and ask them what they would like to buy. Help them learn about the different fruits and vegetables. Splurge and buy them a pint of strawberries they can eat right there.

3. Take a cooler with a couple of milk jugs of ice. Keep that great produce you buy COLD! until you use it.

4. Don’t go to the farmers market to price shop. Local farmers can’t compete with factory farms prices. You will pay higher prices but you get more for your money. The produce is fresher and tastes better. You help the local economy and improve the environment.

5. Be flexible and build a menu around what the farmers have. Farmers sometimes have recipes for vegetables that you are unfamiliar with. Don’t forget the meat, eggs, and dairy products many local farmers are producing now. If you go just to buy tomatoes or sweet corn, then you are actually hurting the environment with this special trip.

6. Ask the farmers for seconds. Farmers are sometimes anxious to sell lower quality at a reduced price. Often you can’t tell the difference when using these for cooking.

7. If you can’t find what you are looking for (provided it is not out of season) ask the farmers to grow it for you. They are often looking for new crops to grow.

8. When the farmer is not serving other customers have them tell you about their farm.

9. Go to the farmers market on the way to your regular trip to the grocery store. This saves energy and you can buy menu ingredients to supplement what you purchased at the farmers market.

10. USE WHAT YOU BUY! Spoiled vegetables in the refrigerator crisper is a waste of money and discourages you from going back to the farmers market.


Darren (Green Change) said...

One tip I'd add is to go regularly, and try to support the same sellers each time. Chat with them if they're not busy, and ask about what they have and how they grow or make it. After a few markets, they'll start to remember you and will look after you - slipping in a little extra, giving your kids a piece of fruit, guiding you to what's really good at the moment, giving you freebies when they're overstocked with something, etc.

Just make sure it's a two-way street, and tell your friends to support that stall-holder as well!

Colleen said...

We went to our favorite New Hampshire farmers' market last week, and sure enough, devoured a whole pint of organic strawberries on the way home. YUM!

Dale Johnson said...

You are absolutely right Darren.

marisa said...

Darren, I totally agree. I was attending a farmers market to get apples with a neighbor of mine through the late summer and into the fall. We formed a relationship with a vendor and at the end of the season, he gave us his phone number. He kept a stock of apples in a temperature controlled storage area, we were able to call him and purchase apples from him all winter long. They weren't freshly picked, but they were a thousand times better than store bought apples!