a Farmers Market
markets are not outdoor grocers or miniature versions of big box
stores. They are uniquely different. They offer consumers a chance to
meet and buy direct from the person who grows the vegetable or raises
the beef or makes the birdhouse. And they provide access to custom-made
or one-of-a-kind products from local sources.
Buying from a local farmer not only helps the local economy, but
the use of farmland for farming. Locally grown produce is
fresher than what's available in supermarkets and this freshness can
affect the taste, quality and nutritional value of the food you
How to shop:
- Go Early. Get
to the market early if you want the best pick of the market. The most
popular products often sell out well before the closing bell.
- Stay Late.
Some vendors will discount prices on remaining goods late in the day
rather than having to pack them up and take them home. If you see
something you want, make an offer.
- Get Informed.
Many markets have an information booth. If you are new to a market, go
here first. This is a good place to find out about deals, coupons,
samples, tastings and upcoming events. Some markets have frequent buyer
programs that give discounts to regulars. A few will cash checks and
some accept food stamp cards.
- Bring Cash.
Most farmers don't travel with an ATM machine or credit
card machine, so bring ones and fives and try to make your own change.
Exact change is always appreciated.
- Scout the Market.
If you have time, walk the market once through before you purchase so
you can get an overview of what's being offered.
- Be Appreciative.
Let the farmers know what you like. If you are a repeat customer, let
them know, especially if you bring friends along to
introduce. Flattery and loyalty can earn you special attention
and, in some cases, "good weight."
- Buy in Bulk.
Much of the produce at farmers markets
is very seasonal. Save money and enhance your larder by purchasing
large quantities in peak season and preserving perishables by canning,
freezing, or drying. (How
to Make Jams
- Bring Shopping Bags.
Re-usable canvas bags or a straw
market bag may be needed to carry
purchases. While most vendors will provide plastic bags, some are
reluctant to do so because of the environmental impact.
- Don’t Barter.
Negotiating prices consumes valuable time and is rarely
appreciated. Most producers post their best prices.
- Be Adventurous.
Try something new. Ask the producer for tips on how to use or prepare
unfamiliar food items.
- Take Your Time.
Don’t feel pressurised into buying. Survey what the market
offer and assess the best quality and values before making your
- Bring a Cooler.
There's usually more than fruits and
vegetables at the farmers market. Many markets also have meats, fish,
milk, cheese, yogurt and ready-to-eat items that require
refrigeration. By bringing a cooler, you can keep perishable
purchases cool and spend more time at the market.
- Check the Pet Policy.
Don't bring your dog to the market without checking first to see if
pets are allowed.
- Ask Questions.
If you’re not sure what something is, don't be afraid to ask.
market vendors grow or produce the goods they sell. They can
how their products are grown or raised and provide ideas for use or
preparation. It's okay to ask for samples, if they aren’t
Getting to know the
farmers will also allow you to figure out who has
the best, most consistent products.
volunteering at a market you'll get a better
understanding of its inner workings and have the opportunity to
relationships with the farmers and the management. By volunteering,
you'll help maintain the viability of the market and its vendors.
- Find Out What's In
Season. If you want to eat in
season, you need to be aware of
what is in
season. If you’re not sure when peaches will be in
season or when to expect tomatoes in the market, visit the information
booth. Many markets produce a
calendar that will tell you when
various fruits and vegetables
will be available. Harvest
to shop at and stock up on local
produce at a farmers market