Fresh produce, food trucks, handmade goods, seasonal cocktails, live music and local art. What sounds better than a local farmers’ market? And good news is: they’re starting up again! Read on to discover a few tips that will make your trip to the local farmers’ market more rewarding.
- Check to see when and where the next farmers’ market is. Look on Facebook or see if there is a community website.
- Bring different payment methods (cash, cards) in case certain vendors don’t accept certain payments. If you plan to take cash, try to take smaller bills to make it easier on the vendors.
- Bring a reusable bag! Save the environment and reuse bags from past grocery trips.
Organic vs. all-natural
Farmers must get certified by the government in order to label their produce organic. They are then held accountable and inspected by local organizations that are accredited by the USDA.
This doesn’t mean that everyone without the certification uses pesticides; many will opt and say “no pesticides” or “all-natural” due to the high cost of the organic certification. However, signs like “no pesticides” are not regulated in any way and can be fraudulent. If in doubt, ask the farmer about their practices.
What’s in season, when?
According to Well and Good, the following is a guide for fresh produce:
|Spring||Strawberries, asparagus, peas, younger tender greens, some stone fruit (apricots, cherries)|
|Summer||Tomatoes, some stone fruit (peaches, plums), berries (blackberries, raspberries), summer squash, eggplants, hot peppers (late summer), chard, beets, winter squash (since these store well, they’re often available year-round)|
|Fall||Winter squash, pumpkins, persimmons, pomegranates, kale, chard, beets, carrots, root vegetables|
|Winter||Persimmons, pomegranates, greens, chard, kale, winter squash, root vegetables|
For a more detailed guide, refer to the Seasonal Food Guide.
Don’t be afraid to spark up a conversation
If you’re not sure what something is, how to prepare it or even whether it’s ripe or not, just ask. Farmers know their products and will be a great resource if you are unsure or curious about anything. If you have a plethora of questions, it may be helpful to show up early before the market gets busy.
Haggling: Is it okay?
A quote from the Well and Good website states:
“’Before asking why a basket of blackberries costs $5, consider what it must be like to pluck perfectly ripe blackberries one at a time into small baskets for hours a day in the hot sun,’ says Avery, who adds that farmers sell their produce at the price it costs to raise it.”
Although you might not want to ask for a discount, you can sometimes save by getting quantity discounts if you buy several pounds of an item. Also, comparison shopping is a good method to save! Look around the market before buying produce, as farmers offer their products at different prices. Some markets will even take EBT (a form of food stamps) or have other grant programs in place for those with limited financial resources.
Check out other vendors
Often, farmers’ markets will have other unique vendors selling cupcakes, handmade home goods, popsicles, jams, jellies, kettle corn and food truck cuisine. Give it a try and support the locals!
Until next time,
Your friends at Mountain West
Sources: Well and Good