It’s summertime! If you’re not familiar with your local farmers’ market, now is the time to go. In addition to fresh produce, you’re also likely to find sustainably raised meat, baked goods, and crafts by local artisans.
Visiting the farmers’ market is more than an errand: it’s an experience. Here is an opportunity to meet farmers and neighbors, enjoy the outdoors, and support the local economy. Here are some tips to help you get the most of your day:
Meet your produce people: Ever long for the days when we knew the milkman by name or got calls from the grocer about early season apples? Then you’ll be happy to hear that they’re not gone, they’re at the farmer’s market! The farmers and producers themselves staff most booths, so don’t be afraid to ask questions and make friends. Once they get to know you, they might set aside your favorite foods, offer recipes, and even introduce you to something new (ramp, anyone?).
Bring a basket: Two of my biggest pet peeves are bruised fruit and digging through my bag to remember if I bought something. That’s why I love using my basket at the farmer’s market: it keeps my food from getting smushed and right where I can see it. I’m partial to baskets made of grass, like this one from Vivaterra, but Reisenthal makes nice ones that are easy to clean and collapsible (available at reuseablebags.com).
Stop by the ATM: Few vendors at the farmers market are equipped with credit card machines, so be prepared to use cash.
Try the samples: Sure you’ve got the list, but you never know what you’ll find at the farmers’ market. Get ready to try fruits you’ve never heard of, unique blends of olive oil, and who knows what else. I love being surprised by my new favorite foods; yes red chili tortillas, I’m thinking of you.
Skip the plastic: Many vendors will supply plastic bags, but that’s the last place to put your brand new produce! Invest in some cloth bags that will keep your purchases grouped together without adding weight. EcoBags creates great produce sacks made from organic cotton in various sizes. Bonus: markets that offer small rebates for tote bags will give rebates on these small bags as well.
Go with friends: Nothing brings people together like food, and the farmers market is no exception. In addition to plentiful samples, local vendors will often set up shop and offer meal specials from their restaurants. So sit down and relax after navigating the food stalls!
Image courtesy of safbaby.com