More Farmers Market Shopping TipsExpect an Experience
You'll be buying produce that's been off the vine just a few hours. But be aware that you won't find everything on your list at bargain prices.
Talk to Farmers
Most vendors are happy to discuss their products and how they raised them, so you can ask them about:
- growing practices, including soil care and chemical use.
- when an item was picked, how to tell if it's ripe and how to properly store it.
- ways to use the food in cooking. Some farmers may have recipes to share.
- estimated time of arrival of a regional favorite, such as sweet cherries, and how its quality looks this year.
Show them what potatoes and tomatoes look like before becoming French fries and ketchup. It's never too early to reinforce the importance of healthy food.
Try Something New
Many vendors offer samples, and it's fun to experiment with a fruit or vegetable you've never tasted.
Introduce yourself and get to know your vendors. Some offer Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) options and can tell you how to get their product when the market is closed. They might even invite you to the farm!
Insider Tips From Executive Chef Tory Millers
- Test for freshness. If something is harvested too early or late, you can usually tell by looking at it. But to me, it's all about tasting and sampling.
- For best prices, become a regular. I also buy in large quantities and pay with cash. That lets farmers know every time they see me, I'm going to be buying something. And if I don't, they might be more inclined to lower prices.
- Ask questions. Where is their farm? How long have they been farming? Do they use sprays or pesticides? If so, for how long and what kind?
- It's ok to buy too much. You can pickle or can pretty much anything. I freeze a lot of things, as well as drying and curing.