Community-based farmer’s markets can introduce shoppers to an array of foods they may otherwise never experience. Farmer’s markets are great places to find fresh, locally grown foods, and many market customers are happy to know they’re benefitting both the environment and local businesses with every dime they spend. Farmer’s markets can range from the very large to the relatively small, and first-time visitors may not know where to begin. The following are a handful of ways to maximize your visit to farmer’s markets of all sizes.
• Take time to explore. Farmer’s markets tend to have many of the same fruits and vegetables you can find at the local chain grocery store, but farmer’s markets also are known for offering more than what you may find in the produce aisle. Take time to explore the market and you may just find foods you typically only find at your favorite restaurant. Exploring also may introduce you to new foods you may otherwise never have tried.
• Consider the timing of your visit. The popularity of farmer’s markets has increased dramatically as more and more people embrace the concept of buying locally grown foods. While that’s great news for the planet and local farmers, shoppers should keep that in mind when planning their visits. If you love trying new foods, arrive early to the farmer’s market before the more unique offerings have been snapped up. Foods that have small yet devoted followings may not be available in abundance, and you may end up leaving empty-handed if you arrive late. If it’s a bargain you want, then visit later in the day when farmers with substantial remaining inventory may be more inclined to lower their prices.
• Know your seasons. Some fruits and vegetables are better at certain times of the year than others. Freshness draws many people to farmer’s markets, and foods that are in-season are more likely to have that unforgettable freshness than those that are out of season or nearing the end of their season. Knowing the seasons is important for budget-conscious shoppers as well. If you’re shopping on a budget, purchasing foods while they’re in-season may save you some money, and you can always stock up on your other favorites later on when it’s their turn to be in-season.
• Speak with the sellers. First-time farmer’s market shoppers may feel like they’re lost in the woods while everyone else seems to know exactly what they want and where to get it. If you find the farmer’s market somewhat intimidating, speak with the sellers. Shopping at the local farmer’s market tends to be more intimate than shopping at the chain grocery store, and many sellers would be happy to offer you some tips and make some suggestions based on the meals you like. Farmer’s markets are great places to support local businesses and find fresh foods.