Forget the melting snow, spring blossoms, and warmer weather – we don’t call it spring until the farmer’s markets open back up.
This year, don’t just shop the market – rule it.
Here are our top 9 tips for mastering your farmer’s market.
1. Early Bird Gets the Strawberries
Every region has a small producer who only has a little of something. If you’ve never been to the market when it opens, then you have no idea what you’re missing. But, trust us, you’re missing out. So, rise and shine and shop!
2. The Two-Lap Approach
Make the first lap about finding out who’s got what and what’s fresh – let’s call it the recon lap. Then, pick your ‘hero’ fruit or veggie (what you’ll build a meal around) and figure out what you’ll need to support that hero to make an epic meal. Now, execute your perfect plan in lap #2.
3. Become the Farmer’s BFF
Farmers are friendly so get to know them. Become a regular and they’ll appreciate it …they might just save you that last basket of blackberries on a day you hit snooze. When shopping with a friend, show them where to get the best peaches and make sure your new farmer BFF knows you’ve delivered them a new fan.
4. Rejoice Rainy Market Days
The crops love rain so why shouldn’t you? There’s something magical about a rainy market day – fewer crowds, a more laid back vibe, better selection and time to really get to know the farmers. Plus, it’s a perfect excuse to finally try that locally roasted coffee or seek shelter under the Tea-Guy’s tent and reflect on the abundance of life.
5. Get The Recipe
Intimidated by that giant bulbous veggie? Don’t turn tail – get the recipe. Farmers know how to prepare the food they grow. Go ahead and ask for tips on how to serve those zucchini flowers or kohlrabi. Be sure to tell them how great it worked out the next time you stop by.
6. Get It Before It’s Gone
When it’s in season, buy it in bulk – especially fruit that will only be in the market for a few weeks a year. Just make sure you have a plan for preserving it that day. Pickle it, ferment it, can it or freeze it – lock in that farmer’s market freshness soon after you get home. But…
7. Exercise Restraint
If you’re anything like us; fresh, farm produce makes you swoon. Don’t let it seduce you into buying more than you can fit in your cute canvas tote or that will (gasp) go to rot in the back of the fridge. Regardless of how sexy those rainbow carrots look, you just aren’t going to eat a five-pound bag this week!
8. Bring Bags, Boxes, and Coins
Help a farmer out. Bring your own bags, have exact change ready and return those egg cartons for refilling. It’s good for the environment and it helps to make a farmer’s day easier and more profitable. Now, we’re not saying it’s a guarantee, but we’ve seen farmers slip a few extra beets into the canvas bag in appreciation.
9. Local ≠ Organic
Just because it was locally produced doesn’t mean that it’s not genetically modified or covered in pesticides. If the farm sign doesn’t say organic, ask the farmer about their use of pesticides and GMO seeds.
It’s market season and with these tips, you’re ready to take the farmer’s markets by storm.