A little planning and preparation can make your trip to the farmers market more productive, efficient and easy on the budget. Farmers markets are a great source for fresh foods and homemade goods, such as jellies and jams, potpourri and crafts, and you don’t want to miss out on any of these great buys. Follow these few tips and your trip is sure to be a success.
Make a list of the fresh foods you wish to purchase. Keep in mind you need to store these foods, so you don’t want to overbuy. Though it’s tempting to snap up armloads of harvested bounty, you don’t want food spoiling because you can’t use it fast enough. Consider those foods, such as berries, that you can preserve by canning or freezing and add those to your list.
Allow for new foods, though. You may find something there that interests you, but you’ve never tried before. Ask the vendors for serving suggestions and for tips on how best to store these new delights.
Plan on bringing cash. The vendors at farmers markets may, or may not, accept your debit card. Cash, though, is a guaranteed currency. The advantage of cash, for you, is that you can only spend what you have then; this keeps you on budget.
Don’t, however, bring a one hundred dollar bill and expect a vendor to be able to break it for that purchase of one head of lettuce. Be considerate. Bring small bills and use up your change when you can. The vendors will appreciate it.
Bring your own canvas or cloth bags. The vendors very likely will bag your goods for you, but do you want to carry around a bunch of little bags filled with fruits and veggies? One or two good-sized cloth bags will hold your bounty and you can shop in comfort.
Get there early in the morning and tour the market. The earlier you arrive the more produce you have to choose from. You’ll see the best of the vendors’ selections; the fruits and vegetables haven’t been picked over and handled by multitudes of visitors. A quick tour around the market will also give you a chance to assess who among the vendors has the best product for the best price.
Talk to the vendors. The people selling the produce and goods at the market are proud of their wares and dedicated to their career choice. At least they should be. Talk to the vendors. Those who are able to talk about how to properly prepare and store the foods they sell are likely to have better produce than someone who shows little interest other than getting money for his or her product.