Looking for fresh produce but unsure about shopping at a farmers market? Here are the inside secrets from the vendors.
1. Take a Lap.
Walk the whole market and check out what’s there before you buy, then double back to make your purchases. You may find a booth hiding in the back that you would have otherwise missed.
2. Leave your pets at home.
The farmers market is a bustling scene where Fido and Spot can easily get stepped on. Many markets don’t allow pets and a hot car is never an option as a last minute kennel.
3. Bring cash.
While many markets utilize smartphone apps to process credit card payments, these apps generally have fees that can put a dent in the farmers’ income. Offering small bills always buys you extra gratitude!
4. Don’t negotiate.
Producing locally grown, sustainable (meaning: fair wages, diverse crops, holistic pest and weed management, organic certification, etc.) costs a little more. How farmer’s make their living should be respected, not negotiated. Instead, find ways to save money in the kitchen by buying in bulk and canning or freezing.
5. Bring a bag (or ten!).
Many vendors will have plastic bags but they certainly appreciate it if you provide your own. It’s better for the environment and easier on the farmers. Plus, we can hook you up with great recycled cotton, reusable bags Mother Nature would approve of.
6. Talk to the farmers.
Vendors always enjoy questions about their processes and products. Don’t be afraid to engage and learn about where your food is coming from. Taking the time to find vendors who closely identify with your values will help you learn who to skip next time.
7. Know what’s in season.
If you pre-plan your shopping list to only suit your menu, you might miss the best buy of the day. Don’t be afraid to go off-script and enjoy produce at it’s peak. HINT: download the ‘Colorado Farm Fresh Directory’ to see the list of seasonal foods on it’s back cover.
8. Buy more than just produce.
Farmers markets also offer fresh cuts of meat, eggs, juices, flowers, honey and so much more! Think about how you can do more of your grocery shopping to support local producers.
9. Try local specialties.
Markets are the perfect place to pick up new ingredients that you wouldn’t find at the local store. You’ll be amazed at the difference in flavor that comes from buying fresh fixings from your own neighborhood compared to what you’d find at the store.
Lastly… Know where and when to go.
The good folks at the Colorado Department of Agriculture have prepared a comprehensive guide for all things farm-fresh. Enjoy!