A Farmer’s Market can be overwhelming. Who has the best product? Who has the best prices? How do I know I am getting a good value for my dollar?
This post will answer your questions.
Get to know the vendors.
Ask questions about their products. Growers and market vendors should be able to answer your questions. Some questions you can ask are: “When was this picked? Where was it grown? Has it been sprayed? Is it a GMO seed?” Based on answers to these questions, you can make your decision about what to buy.
If this is your first visit to a market, do a quick sweep around the market to see what is available and prices. In small markets, prices will usually be similar with only a bit of variance based on the variety or quantity available. Larger markets may have a more significant price difference among vendors. If you are a regular customer, you will know what to expect from your favorite vendors.
After a quick perusal of what is available, go back and make your purchases. One caution however, vendors may have limited quantities of some items. If you have an established relationship with particular vendors based on their reputation for quality and price, you may want to shop those vendors first.
Learn what is in season.
Eating seasonally will not only provide the most nutritious bang for your buck, but also the best flavor. Local produce has a limited availability due to growing conditions and climate.
For example, you can find tomatoes in Illinois in May, but these are not likely to have been grown locally. The best tomatoes in Central Illinois are available from early July through the end of August, sometimes even stretching into mid-September. These tomatoes will be fully vine-ripened, bursting with tomato flavor.
Shop a Farmer’s Market first.
Above all, find a local farmer’s market and shop there before the big box stores. Produce will be fresher and there are other some great finds like honey, balms, craft items and much more.
Plus you have the opportunity to develop relationships with great people. What could be better?
If you would like to read more about how we found a community at the 18th Street Farmer’s Market, check out this book: The Long Road to Market. And don’t forget to follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.