Fresh, natural produce is an absolute staple of a healthy diet, and a healthy life. Luckily, it’s catching on! And where better to get fresh produce than directly from the source? According to the U.S Department of Agriculture, the number of farmer’s markets increased almost 10% between 2011 and 2012. Is there one near you? Take a look at our Top 8 Tips for a successful trip to your local farmer’s market:
1. Set aside a decent block of time to fully explore the market. Farmer’s markets are full of variety so it will take some time to get a good look at everything. The huge selection will open your eyes to foods you have maybe never seen, smelled or tasted. Even if you came with a grocery list– explore and discover!
2. Don’t sleep in! Some items will be in short supply and you don’t want to be the last one to the party…you may miss out on some real treasures!
3. Don’t just buy the first thing you see! Make a full round and browse the options before you buy. The prices are usually pretty close, but color and size will vary. Look for quality first, price second.
4. Start a conversation! Talking to the farmers can teach you so much about their farming methods and even how to prepare the different items they sell. They can also turn you on to some new produce! Who knows the selection better than the source?
5. Bring the proper equipment to make away with your loot! Big reusable bags and even coolers are some of the best ways to make sure you leave the market with everything you want. Think about it- there may be fresh cheese or eggs available, but aren’t you less likely to buy if you’re afraid it will go rancid before you make it home? And only buying what you can carry will no doubt leave you wanting more later, longing for what you had to leave behind!
6. Go more than once a season, even if you stocked up last time. Most farmer’s markets, while keeping lots of the same vendors, will also rotate and mix in some guest vendors.This means new items with new growing methods from new places.
7. Read the signs. Lots of markets will require vendors to have signs in their booths, and since markets can get quite crowded it may not be possible to have a conversation with the farmer. You can learn their location, methods, and product at a glance!
8. Take the kids! A day trip to the farmer’s market is a fun family activity that is also an excellent place to teach your kids about nutrition, healthy diet, and appreciation for the foods we eat.