With the days growing longer, the warmth of the sun and the grass starting to turn green, the thought of checking out a local farmer’s market and enjoying the weather easily comes to mind. Here are a few tips to make the most of your experience at the farmer’s market!
Be an Early Bird
If you want to avoid the crowds and get the freshest produce, get to the farmer’s market early. This can also give you a chance to talk to the farmers and pick items that you feel good about. Popular but limited items may even sell out before the end of the day, so going early ensures that you get what you want!
Bring Your Own Bags and Small Bills
Although some vendors will offer bags for your items, do the environment a favour and bring sturdy, reusable bags from home. If you are walking to the farmer’s market, a backpack is an easy way to haul your items home. Although vendors will make change and some even have debit or credit options, purchases will go easier and faster if you bring smaller bills.
Scope Out your Options
Before you purchase your items, do a once around first and scope out all your options, as there tends to be multiple stands with similar items. This will ensure that you are getting the best items for the best price!
Know What’s in Season
Learn what grows in your area and what is in season, as this will ensure you are coming home with the best tasting produce. You can talk with the growers and find out what will be available in weeks to come.
Plan Meals Ahead of Time
Plan your meals to allow you to shop accordingly and use your budget wisely. When you are buying ultra fresh produce, try simple dishes that allow the natural flavours to come through. You will also know how much you need to purchase, and it will also prevent food from being wasted. That being said, leave a little wiggle room for new items that you would like to try. Half of the fun at farmer’s markets is learning about what new items are out there!
Organic vs. Not Organic
The best place to get information regarding items at the farmer’s market is the growers or producers. Some items may be produced following organic guidelines, but certifications can be expensive for local, smaller scale farmers. Ask the farmer’s and make the call accordingly.
Is it Really Local?
Take the time to read up on the market you are headed to and look into the vendors you are purchasing from. It is common for markets to have stands that are selling imported items. Talk to the vendors, as they will know most about where the food is coming from.
Take Your Time
The best way to enjoy your trip to the farmer’s market is when you aren’t on a tight schedule. Take the time to soak in your surroundings – you will feel more relaxed and inspired to use the items in the kitchen.
By Brittaney Semeschuk, Chef