Shopping at Farmers Markets Benefits
There are many reasons to shop at your local farmers market. They offer locally grown and farm fresh produce, baked goods, cheeses, eggs, flowers, preserved fruits, eggs and other products from a variety of farms and gardens within a local area.
By establishing a personal relationship with a farmer, you will be able to find out how your food is grown, if the farmer uses organic farming practices and when different fruits and vegetables will become available.
Before heading out to a farmers market, do a little pre-planning. For the first time farmer’s market shopper, the large number of vendors and the wide selection of produce can be overwhelming.
Benefits of Shopping At A Farmer’s Market?
- Much of the fruits and vegetables sold at a farmer’s market are locally-grown. Locally-grown produce is freshly harvested, tastes better and contains more nutrients.
- Farmers markets support local farms and gardens. Keeping money within your local area helps foster growth in your community.
- Supporting local farms and farmers markets help maintain food stability and sustainability in the area.
- Buying produce that has been grown locally helps reduce food costs and increases food diversity. Locally grown food does not have to be shipped long distances and avoids added costs due to shipping. Because food is not shipped, produce that has a shorter shelf life can be offered.
- Farmers markets give you an opportunity to get to know local farmers and find out how the food is grown.
- Simply walking up and down the farmer’s market is a great way to get some exercise!
- Want to know when certain produce is in season? Check out In Season Fruit & Vegetable Guide.
There are several things you can do to make your experience at a farmers market pleasant and productive.
Here are a few tips:
- Learn when foods are in season in your area. Buying food when it is in season is not only less expensive than food that comes from a different region, it also provides more nutritional value.
- Shop early when the selection is the best. Farmers markets tend to get crowded as the day wears on. Getting to the farmers market when it first opens gives you the opportunity to select the best foods and to get the food you want.
- Bring your own bags. If you have reusable shopping bags, make sure to take them on your trip. Vendors usually have flimsy plastic bags that may tear when weighed down with groceries. Bringing your own bags, rolling carts or backpacks makes it easier to carry your purchases and helps keep prices down.
- Carry small change and bills. While many vendors can make change, having the exact amount will cut down your time at the market. Keep in mind that some vendors or entire markets will not accept anything but cash.
- Make a shopping list before heading to the farmers market. A little pre-planning will make your shopping trip less overwhelming. Your list should include foods that can be used in your meals for the following week. While it is important to stick to your list, allow a little leeway to make a special purchase of local raw honey or some new vegetable that you’ve never tried before.
Get to Know the Vendors
It pays to frequent a farmers market on a regular basis. You’ll not only become more familiar with what is offered at the market, but you’ll learn what each vendor has to offer.
Once you find vendors that carry those items you buy regularly and at a price you can afford, get to know the farmers on a personal basis. Learn their names, ask questions about their farm and find out what they offer at different times of the year.
There are other reasons to become a regular shopper at your local farmers market. As vendors get to know you as someone who spends money in their farmers market stall, you may be rewarded with an unadvertised deal.
When dealing with vendors at the farmers market, follow these tips:
- Be polite. Farmers deal with all types of personalities throughout the market day. Those customers that are polite and friendly will receive priority service.
- Don’t waste time. Have your money ready to pay for your purchases and don’t monopolize the farmer’s time when there are other customers waiting in line.
- Be reasonable when asking for a bargain. Prices at the farmers market are usually reasonable. But, sometimes a deal can be found for the asking. If you want to haggle on the price, be fair and don’t expect the farmer to give you something for nothing.
Use Your Nose
One of the best ways to shop a farmers market is with your nose. As you walk past stalls of produce, take a big whiff and follow your nose. The food should smell fresh and clean.
If a vendor sells peaches, that peachy smell should be pleasing and fragrant. If they sell mushrooms, there should be an earthy smell. Smell is a good sign of quality.
You’ll also want to use your eyes. Look for produce that doesn’t have any blemishes or bruises. Allow your senses to lead you towards a healthier lifestyle of buying local and eating fresh.