The best way to find fresh, local and organic foods that are healthy and delicious is by utilizing your local farmer's market. You can find a lot more than just fruits and vegetables at your local farmer's market too. You can find handmade personal care products, handcrafted items for your home, organic honey, bread, cheese, eggs, milk, meats, wine and even handmade apparel and jewelry. Here are my 6 tips for making the most out of your trip to the farmer's market and getting a great deal while you are there.
1- Go Local: Find a local farmer's market that is close to you at Local Harvest. Local Harvest is a great website because once you find a farmer's market in your area, you can find out more about the farmer's and vendor's that you will find there. Sometimes, the farmer's market will have it's own website where you can find out more about the local vendors and products that they provide.
2- Get Planning: Before you head out to the farmer's market for the day, make a meal plan. There are several questions that you should ask yourself when making your meal plan. Do you know what fruits and vegetables are in season? What meals can you make using these ingredients? How much will you need? You will want some flexibility however, since the farmer's market may not have all of the fresh ingredients that you will need.
3- Come Prepared: Hitting the farmer's market first thing in the morning is when you will have the best selection. Just remember that once the sun in high in the sky, it may get hot. Remember to pack your sunscreen, sunglasses and hat to protect your body from the sun. Also, don't forget to bring your reusable bags or a large basket to carry all of your goodies home in and small bills to pay for your purchases. If you are looking for a great deal, visit the farmer's market much later in the day.
4- Ask Questions: One of the best things about a farmer's market, that you will never get at the grocery store, is the ability to interact with the farmer directly. Do you want to know more about the farm where the products are produced? Are you wondering how to use an ingredient that you aren't familiar with? Do you want to know if the products are organic? Just ask, you can learn a lot by asking just a few simple questions. You may learn that even though the products aren't labelled organic, doesn't mean that they are a member of the dirty dozen. Many small farmer's can not afford the organic certification, so their products may be organic, but not labeled as such.
5- Shop Around: Your local farmer's market may have several vendors that sell the same or similar products. Shopping around to view what quality, price and quantity of the products that you are looking for can save you money. Once you find a vendor that you enjoy and create a relationship with, you may save even more money, since the farmer will remember you and is more likely to give you a discount.
6-Try Something New: While shopping at your local farmer's market, you will probably encounter fruits and vegetables that are unfamiliar to you. Give these new foods a try, you may just find that you really love jicama, cherimoyas or Chayote Squash.
What tips to do use to make the most of your farmer's market experience? Leave your comments below!
Bags Photo: Orderly
Jicama Photo: Nodame
All Other Photos: New Amsterdam Market