There really is something special about shopping at the farmers market isn’t there? There is a wonderful rhythm to shopping at the market--strolling through the stands, sampling a fresh picked berry, chatting with the fellow shoppers about their favorite way to eat rainbow chard, watching happy children suck on honey sticks and getting to know the farmer that grew your food.
I wrote this list a few years ago and thought I might dust it off and share with you. I hope they help you to help you make the most of your market season!
Get there early to get the best produce: If you have your heart set on making blackberry jam that week, it’s best to buy those first. Those enticing items get snapped up quickly.
Stroll the market before you start buying: I love to see what everyone has on hand that week and then I lay out a strategy for the meals I plan to serve and for how much I can carry!
Bring cash or your checkbook: Carry small bills and change and use those for small transactions. If you plan to buy in bulk, write a check.
Bring your own bags: Not only is it environmentally friendly, but quite often the vendors don’t provide them.
Ask Questions: The farmers and artisans want to share their knowledge with you. Many a great recipe or storage tip has been learned learned by just chatting with the vendors. If they're not busy, ask about how they came to be a baker, beekeeper, or cheesemonger.
Seconds: Did you know that sometimes the farmers often have a box of what they may consider second-rate vegetables behind their table? This is my favorite tip for food preserving. If I plan to cook the tomatoes into a salsa for canning, then I don’t really care what they look like. These prices are usually negotiable and often a great value.
Kindness goes a long way: Try to remember that often the farmer was in the field that day, had to load up, set up, and then spend a long day at the market before having to tear down and load out. Share a smile and a kind word.
Pricing: It’s important to remember that the farmers and artisans need to earn a living wage. Quite often, heirloom tomatoes that were grown in well-tended soil or a hen that was allowed to free range will be more expensive than grocery store prices. But they are often worth the price, in taste. If you find the prices too high, just move on. Please don't verbally assault the farmer who just put everything they have into growing, harvesting, and bringing it to market.