The Farmer's Market:
Did you know that the first Farmers Market opened in 1634 in Boston, Massachusetts? Your local farmers market is a place where the community comes together and purchases foods from their local farmers and food producers. Farmers are fundamental to keeping us healthy. Wouldn’t you rather walk among stalls of fresh fruit and vegetables rather than down the grocery aisles pushing a heavy cart around? Fresh whole foods keep our bodies healthy and happy. At your local farmers market, you can connect with where your food comes from, talk to the farmers and learn from the people who care for the food you eat. It’s also a place that reflects the local culture and economy.
Tips for Navigating Your Local Farmers Market
The summertime season means sunshine, warmer weather, and farmers markets. Shopping at the local farmers market is one of the best ways to eat locally and support community farmers and growers. Whether you are a first-timer at the farmers market or a weekly regular, here are ten tips for navigating the community farmers market.
#1 Carry Cash
When heading to the local farmers market, bring cash. Although most farmers accept credit or debit cards, it is always best to have cash on hand, just in case credit cards are not accepted at all vendor stalls.
#2 Come Hungry
Some farmers markets not only offer fresh produce, but some even have fresh food stands. Baked goods, fruit smoothies, and sandwiches, gourmet grilled corn, anyone? Yum! Grab a friend or meet your mom and share a lunch together outside in Mother Nature. Make a picnic out of it and bring some of your favorite snacks to share with your crew.
#3 Create a Shopping List
No matter if you shop at the local grocer or community farmers market, making a shopping list is always helpful. Before you go shopping, take an inventory of what food and products you have on hand at home, then write down everything you need to stock up on. Making a grocery list will make your trip to the farmers market a lot easier and way less stressful, which means more time for you to enjoy the bounty of the summer season.
#4 Go Early or Shop Late
Farmers markets are less crowded when they first open, so if you want the first pick on your favorite pieces of produce, go first thing in the morning. However, if you are looking for a good deal, go shopping towards the end of the day. Vendors may be more inclined to give a small discount on their crops so they don’t have to repack and haul any leftovers back to the farm at closing time.
#5 Grab Reusable Bags
Most vendors at the farmers market will have plastic bags for you to use, but when you are hauling home half of a dozen summertime peaches and heavy homegrown tomatoes, you may be wishing you had sturdier grocery bags. Before you head out, grab some reusable grocery bags. You’ll be happy you did!
#6 Leave Space
If you decide to venture off your usual shopping list with something exciting and new, make sure you leave enough space to haul it home. Be sure to bring an extra canvas tote bag or two, just in case. You always want to be prepared for the unexpected. Sometimes they turn out to be some of the best finds!
#7 Take a Lap
When you first arrive at the community farmers market, take an initial lap around the entire market and visit all of the vendors. The worst thing to do is purchase the very first item on your list later to realize you could have gotten two for the price of one at a different vendor, so if you have time, peruse before you choose.
#8 Try Something New
Although a grocery list is good, do not be afraid to go rogue and try something new. That crazy-looking vegetable could turn out to be an ingredient in your new favorite recipe. You will never know unless you try! Still unsure? Ask the farmers!
#9 Talk to the Farmers
If that crazy-looking vegetable looks too crazy for you, do not be afraid to ask the farmers, they are the experts after all. They usually have the best preparation tips and recipe recommendations, so do not be afraid to ask questions. Plus, local farmers and growers usually like to share their knowledge from all of their hard work and homegrown produce.
#10 Shop for the Seasons
Learn what produce grows in your region so you know what food is in season. If you are unsure, refer to tip #9 and ask the farmers. While you are asking questions, inquire what is to come in future weeks so you can plan your meals, menus, and shopping lists accordingly.
This summer, enjoy the community farmers market in your area and remember to stay healthy and happy!
Looking for a local farmers market? Check out the USDA’s National Farmers Market Directory.
Bonus Recipe: Light Simple Summer Salad
1 cup romaine lettuce chopped
1/4 cup sliced green olives (or your favorite ones)
1/4 cup scallion chopped
1/4 cup grape tomatoes sliced
2Tbs fresh dill chopped
1/2 cucumber sliced
1/4 cup carrots shredded
Mix and eat. If you need dressing try sprinkling freshly squeezed lemon juice, pinch of salt and tsp extra virgin olive oil.
Need some summer recipe inspiration for all of those new recipes you will be whipping up with your farmers market haul? Check out @MBVeganShare or join our CEO live @itsnolasnack every other Sunday when she shares some delicious and nutritious vegan recipes. Don’t worry, even if you aren’t vegan, you will still enjoy these dishes.
Tag us @itsnolasnack so we can see your favorite farmers market finds!