Local foods tastes better. Fruits and vegetables grown locally and sold at the farmer’s market spend more time maturing in the field, and less time on the road. They aren’t picked green and sprayed with hormones to ripen. They are naturally at their peak flavor and nutrition, and ready for your family to enjoy.
Tips for shopping at the farmers’ market
· Mind your budget. Before you go, decide how much you have to spend. Bring along a calculator or paper and pencil to track spending. Don’t buy more that you can store safely and eat or preserve before it spoils.
· Bring the kids and let them help pick out some of the fruits and vegetables. They will learn how to shop wisely and might even get excited about trying new foods.
· Arrive early for best selection. Popular items may sell out fast.
· Shop late for best prices. Some farmers will sell items at a lower price, rather than taking them home. Don’t be afraid to bargain.
· Make a lap around the market before making purchases. This will allow you to see which booths have the best quality food for the lowest prices, which vendors accept EBT or nutrition program benefits, or offer promotions such as Double Dollars.
· Keep an open mind. Produce sold at the farmers’ market is usually grown for taste, not appearance. It may look imperfect, but taste great.
· Ask for seconds. Sometimes farmers have good produce that didn’t look good enough to display. Ask if they have seconds that they will sell at a reduced rate.
· Buy fruits and vegetables in season. That’s when they’re at the height of quality and lowest price. See below for information for when produce is in season.
· Ask questions. Farmers are usually happy to answer questions about their produce, and they often have good cooking and serving suggestions.
· Take notes to help you remember which vendors have good prices on high quality food. Next time you visit the market, refer to your notes.
· Buy now, enjoy later. If possible, buy large amounts of produce in season and freeze, can or dry it for the winter. Contact your county Extension office for classes in food preservation.