Your Farmers Market Checklist
While we’re starting to bid the summer farewell, that doesn’t necessarily mean we have to say goodbye to our local farmers markets. Fall is one of the best seasons to be visiting the farmer stand and buying fresh and organic produce, so that’s why we took a trip with Missy Robbins and Hillary Sterling of A Voce Madison to check out New York City’s Union Square farmers market. Robbins and Sterling had a lot of suggestions for how to navigate your farmers market, so we’ve compiled their tips, and some of our own suggestions, to make a farmers market checklist for you to follow when you’re shopping fresh this fall.
- Do your homework. Just because it’s a farmers market doesn’t mean that that’s where you should be buying all of your produce. Sometimes you’re better off taking the grocery store route, especially when it comes to being costly. Price-check your shopping list and only invest in things that save you money and are worth buying fresh at the farmers market.
- Choose wisely. Visiting a farmers market is a lot different from running to the grocery store, so take your time and make sure to explore each vendor. You may find a cheaper bunch of carrots at one vendor and even cheaper apples at the next, so it’s best to be leisurely and choose your vendors wisely.
- Be your charming and engaging self. The best part about shopping at a farmers market is being able to talk to the person who grew the potatoes that you’re buying, so take full advantage. Ask them what looks best out of their selection, any preparation tips they have for their produce, and what their favorite pick of the crop is. You’ll take away a lot more than produce from your farmers market this way, and hey, you may even charm them into giving you a cheaper price.
- Timing is everything. As is with many other aspects of life, timing is very important when shopping at a farmers market. You’ll definitely want to avoid the crowds, and you’ll also want the best selection, so try to get there as early in the morning as you can.
- Plan, plan, plan. Because there are so many wonderful and amazing-looking things to buy at a farmers market, it’s easy to get carried away and shop with our eyes and not our stomachs (don’t worry — we’re guilty of it as well). Make a meal plan before you head to the farmers market so that you only buy what you need and avoid being wasteful.
- Judge the book by its cover. While relationship advice won’t ever tell you to do this, it’s definitely wise to use your eyes as a judge when shopping at the farmers market. Just as Robbins and Sterling explain, you want things that look bright, fresh, and clean — and sometimes not so clean, as Sterling mentions — for the best possible selection.
Anne Dolce is the Cook Editor at The Daily Meal. Follow her on Twitter @anniecdolce