Making the Most of the Farmer's Market
The days are getting nicer (hot even!) and if you are like me you are having visions of fresh garden produce. Not everyone can have a massive backyard garden so we turn to our other option...farmer's markets. Farmer's Markets are a great option for being able to buy fresh, local produce right in your town. Plus I think it's kinda fun to look around at all the goodies that are offered! Here's a few tips to help you make the most of your trips to the farmer's market this year.
1. If you are looking for a particular item, check out all the booths before you buy. Even if you find a good deal on a certain product at one stand, the next one might have an even better deal and you won't know until you check it out! Our local farmer's market isn't very big so I will go through all the booths first before I buy.
2. Learn to bargain to stretch your dollars. Especially if it's towards the end of the day...the farmer's will be motivated to sell. If you haven't already learned the art of bargaining you can check out these posts:
3. Buy in bulk. Often farmers will offer you a big discount if they have an abundance of a product and they are ready to sell. Buy in bulk and ask for a discount. You can always preserve the produce if you can't eat it right away. If you are at the farmer's market towards the end of the day, this is a good time to make bulk purchases since the farmer's will be trying to sell off their remaining produce before they have to pack up and head for home. (Learn all about Buying in Bulk here)
4. Don't compare produce prices at farmer's markets to in-store prices. Sure, you may be able to pay $0.99 a pound for roma tomatoes at the grocery store on sale but they won't be local, organically grown, farm fresh romas. Knowing grocery store prices will help you be able to make a baseline price for what you'd be willing to pay but shouldn't be a guideline.
5. Looking for organic? Ask the farmer. Plenty of farmers grow their produce organically or sustainable but they aren't certified organic. (It's expensive and complicated to get certified!) If you'd like to know if a product is conventionally raised or organically raised, just ask.
6. BYOB - Bring Your Own Bag! Otherwise you may have to learn the hard way like I did and have to carry all kinds of produce around with you while you are still trying to shop. Some farmer's have bags available but they appreciate it when you bring your own!
7. Make sure you check out multiple farmer's markets if available in your area. I know I can go to the farmer's market in town that's close by or I can travel a little bit further to another farmer's market in a nearby town and get some great deals. The bigger farmer's market isn't always the best option. Although they may have the most farmer's competing to make a sale to you many of them may have had to travel to the location so they may have to charge more for their goods than someone selling at a farmer's market in their own small town.
8. Get to know the farmers. This especially helps if you are looking for a particular item. Ask the farmer that carries it when they will be selling or when they plan to have it for sale. This is also a great way to learn how the vegetables are grown. If you are looking for items that are organic a farmer may not have that listed up front but may use organic growing practices on their farm.
Most importantly, have fun! Enjoying being out and shopping and supporting your local economy and local farmers!
What are your best tips for shopping at farmer's markets?
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