From spring through fall, I always enjoy spending my Saturday mornings at the farmers market. If they were open during winter, I would brave the cold just to get as much fresh produce as I could all while supporting local farms. There’s really nothing better than knowing your fruits, vegetables, eggs, milk, and cheese are coming straight the farm to the table. There’s no additives, weird chemicals, and pesticides to worry about and besides, the experience is so enjoyable in itself that it’s definitely worth a trip if you’ve never been.
Some of my favorite items to purchase at the farmers market (besides the fresh produce) is quick bread (banana walnut, zucchini, or lemon), jams/spreads (blackberry), cheese (goat cheese or a spreadable blend with herbs), honey, and pickled vegetables that have been jarred since winter. You can also find meats, eggs, milk, herb plants, flowers, and food stands selling a quick bite to eat and drink during the hot summer. I will never forget the lavender lemonade I once tried at a farmers market years ago- it was awesome!
If you’re headed to the farmers market and don’t know where to start, here are a few tips on how to navigate and maximize your next visit:
- Take a reusable tote bag. It will come in handy, plus it’s good for the earth.
- Make a list beforehand so that you know exactly what you want to purchase, especially if you are menu planning for the week.
- Bring cash with you, preferably in small bills. It’s easier for the vendors to process a payment and give change as most will not have a credit card machine.
- Shop early. Items for sale will get picked through pretty fast.
- Choose seasonal products. Produce will be at peak and as fresh as you can get.
- Buy in bulk. You can always can or freeze what you don’t eat right away.
- If you’re unsure about a certain product, ask for a sample. Most of the time, there will be samples available to taste.
- Ask questions if you want to learn more about a product, (i.e. how it was grown, how to cook it, how it was processed). Vendors will be knowledgeable and informative.
- Take your kids or your dog. Walking around the market is not only good exercise, but some markets will have a bounce house for kids and a water station for pets.
- Explore new products that are not accessible at the grocery store (refer back to #8).