With a little preparation, you can get the most out of your local market.
You will need
- A shopping list
- A willingness to ask questions
- Knowledge of local neighborhoods
Step 1 Make a shopping list of produce that’s in season, so that you have a guide as you shop the stalls.
Search online or in cookbooks to come up with a few ideas for meals you can make with what you expect to find.
Step 2 If you want the best selection, get there early. But if you’d rather score a deal, arrive late. Farmers don’t like to head home with extra inventory, so they often offer discounts as closing time approaches.
The same vendors often sell at several markets in the same city or county, scaling prices based on the affluence of the neighborhood.
Step 3 Don’t come to the farmers market hungry – you’re more likely to impulse buy. Buy a snack at the market before you start shopping, if you’re starving.
Step 4 Walk around the whole market once without buying anything, so you can compare prices and quality. Often, a few vegetables and fruits will dominate, but their quality and prices can vary widely from vendor to vendor. Adjust your shopping list based on what is available.
Step 5 Make a second tour of the market, picking up whatever you’ve decided on.
If you see produce you’re interested in, but are hesitant to buy it because you’re not sure how to prepare it, ask the vendor for cooking tips.
Step 6 If you have a favorite fruit or vegetable that will be in season soon, ask a few of the vendors when they’re expecting their crop and whether they think this will be a good year for it. The more abundant the item, the less you can expect to pay for it.
If you’re feeding a large family, ask farmers about buying in bulk to save money.
Step 7 Hurry home so you can make a mouthwatering meal with all that farm-fresh produce!
Sales by farmers directly to household consumers rose 49 percent from 2002 to 2007.