It’s the most wonderful time of the year – for colorful produce! Apples, kale, carrots, tomatoes – you name it, your local farmer’s got it. We love this time of year for discovering fresh, new juice and smoothie recipes that include some of Mother Nature’s most vibrant and nutritious fruits and veggies.
Your local farmers’ market is a great way to stock up on locally grown and organic groceries. But often times, the markets are so packed with shoppers and overwhelming amounts of produce that it can be hard to find your way around. Not sure what that bumpy, dark leafy green is? Looking everywhere for a loaf of whole grain bread?
Here are 6 tips we’ve found helpful in navigating your local farmers’ market:
Make a list
For us, being at a farmers’ market is as enjoyable as a kid in a candy shop, but there is quite a bit of overstimulation and distractions. We always bring a list of produce we need, like the ingredients for our Super Cider, so if the bakery table aromas distract us (almost always), the list helps get us back on track.
Stop by the information tent
Larger farmers’ markets usually have an information tent where you can ask about specific foods you’re looking for, find out who the new vendors are and learn about any specials going on for the day.
Talk to the farmer
If you’re unsure what type of vegetable you have in your hand, and how to cook it, or preserve it, the best thing to do is ask the farmer. Farmers are a great resource for produce knowledge and most of them really enjoy educating curious buyers about eating locally.
It’s not all about appearance
Don’t automatically pass by tables with wilted lettuce or misshaped produce. Leafy greens get tired from being in the sun all day, but if you run them under cold water for a few minutes they’ll most likely perk back up. And produce that doesn’t look ‘perfect’ probably means it’s free of GMOs. However, if you feel squishy spots or see black blotches, move on.
As for a taste
(But know the etiquette). Once you get to know the farmers, you can ask for a sample of whatever you want to try before buying. And even if you don’t know them, just ask if they can cut you a slice or give you a taste. Just remember to always be respectful as these goods are – literally – the fruits of their labor.
Arrive at opening or closing time
We’ve found that if you get to your farmers’ market right when it opens, there are great discounts offered until the produce runs out (quickly!). For instance, a great deal on squash at 8:00 a.m. might be over by 12:00 p.m. if the farmer sells out. However, if you show up towards the end, farmers are often more willing to throw in extra produce or offer a lower price so they won’t have as many leftovers.