Farmer's Markets are one of the biggest things in New England. While I know that there are Farmer's Markets everywhere, it seems that New England folk are obsessed with them. When I first moved here, I didn't really shop at farmer's markets, now they are a staple and every Sunday I am first in line. That is what made me think up the top 11 things that you should know before venturing out to your local farmer market!
1. Get There Early
I'm not kidding; get there early. If you don't, you could have missed out on some of the limited supply items that the early-birds got to take advantage of. Sometimes, the farmers even do discounts for people who arrive early, so it could save you some cash if you get there wicked early!
2. Sketch out Meals before You Go
Before you go to a farmer's markets in your area, you want to have a game plan. Make a small sketch out of the meals that you want to make that week and make sure it is adjustable. If you are planning on salads all week, stock up. If you are looking for side dishes, what types of veggies or fruits are you looking for? This game planning before you go will save you a ton of time while you are fighting through the crowds at the farmer's market.
3. Keep It Simple
Whenever you are cooking with farmer's markets fruits and veggies, you know you are getting the best of the best. These items are typically grown by local farmers and keeping your recipes simple and letting the vegetables and fruits sing will make all of the difference. Don't add in a bunch of things, just let the natural flavors come out, it'll taste way better!
4. Ask to Taste before Buying
Believe it or not, but you don't have to buy something just on looks. At a farmer's market, you can actually ask the farmer's for a taste of any vegetable or fruit and 9 times out of 10, they will give you a taste! Want to try how the strawberries are right now? Ask! It'll make all of the difference!
5. Do Not Negotiate
Would you go into Dior and try to drive down the price? Don't do it with farmer's markets. The reason for this is because the farmers are fair with their pricing and most of the money that you spend goes right back into the farm. Don't try to get a deal, you are already getting one.
6. Know Your Seasons
Unlike supermarkets that import everything and anything, these types of markets can't bring you everything that you want. Seriously ladies, you can't get peaches in January at a market like this. This is why you want to brush up on your seasons and what grows when. Believe me, it will save you in the long run!
7. Invest in a Cart
If you are planning on buying a ton (like I do every week) at the market, it can be tough on your back. That is what wheeled carts or even a wagon is for. Typically, a farmer's market can be really large and to try and lug around a bag full of veggies can be hard. My wagon was the best investment ever!
8. Bring Your Own Bags
If you aren't buying for the entire week and just buying a few things, bring your own bags. While most farmer's have some bags, they don't promise that they will have them. What I've found that works is leaving a few of those reusable bags in my car, that way you can grab them whenever you need them!
9. Go with Small Change
Most farmers don't have a ton of change on them and actually want small change. Before you head out to grab all of the fresh fruits and vegetables, make sure you change out your big bills for small ones. In most of the markets that I have been in, there are no taxes so the price you see is the price that you pay.
10. Plan for Spontaneity
Remember when I said to make your plans for meals flexible? Like I said, you can't exactly count on a particular vegetable or fruit being at the market. The reason for this is because everything is home-grown, so nothing is imported. Just make sure that your planning is flexible and you can be spontaneous with your menu and you'll be fine!
11. Buy in Bulk
One of the biggest tips that you should remember about these types of markets is that the more that you buy, the better deal farmer's will give you! While you might not be able to negotiate their prices, if you buy a lot, they will offer a discount. I've brought a ton of vegetables and fruits in bulk and most of the time, they'll give me $10.00 off the entire lot. That's a great deal!
I am a huge local-food person. I like to know where my food is grown and where my money is going and farmer's markets are a great way to buy local. I know that when I first started going to farmer's markets, it was a little overwhelming, but I know if you keep these tips in mind, you guys will have no problems! What types of local food do you like to buy? Do you get your fruits and vegetables from a farmer's market?
Top Photo Credit: cleber