Navigating Your Local Farmer's Market
There is nothing fresher than what you can find at your local farmers market. Quite often, products are picked or collected that morning and driven straight to the market. Can it get fresher than that? If you haven’t taken full advantage of shopping at one before, here are a few tips to get your started.
How do I find a farmers market?
There are several resources out there that can help you locate the nearest farmers market. From neighbors, community centers and visitor bureaus, there is also the internet. Simply type in your city and “farmers market” and a plethora, in most areas, will appear. From there, jot down the day of week and hours and mark it on your calendar. There are farmers markets everyday of the week, you just need to find the day for the market nearest you.
What should I bring?
I always recommend bringing a sweater, pants, or jacket (depending on the weather of course) that has a zip pocket. This way, you can keep your money, cell phone and keys on you and not worry about carrying a purse. Quite often, you will find yourself stopping for samples or to make your selection and there is nowhere to safely put your purse as you canvas through the barrels of fresh produce. I also always bring a cooler in my car to help keep perishable items at their prime until home.
Do they accept credit cards?
Some vendors do but they are usually the devices that plug into their cell phones or ipads. I always bring cash in the chance they don’t accept cards.
Can I bring my dog?
Some markets allow dogs and others do not! I normally would not bring my dog because there is a lot of stimulus (aka FOOD) and it can be distracting from my main purpose for being there. Plus, when you stop to make a purchase, it’s hard to hold a leash, watch your dog, talk to the farmers, make a selection and pay all at the same time. If you still want to bring Fido, I would check the website first and call the info line if they have one.
Do I need to bring my own shopping bags?
I always do because quite often, they will ask if you have them and it really helps them out. Also, the bags they give you could be like the bags you find in the produce section at your grocery store and don’t have handles. Bring shopping bags that have straps that can easily fit over your shoulders or cross-body for easy comfort and to accommodate all those lovely finds that you will have.
Can I ask the vendors questions on how they would prepare a dish with their produce?
ABSOLUTELY! Quite often those that are working the stands own the farm or are closely connected with the produce in some capacity. Because of this, I usually find that they are passionate for the products they sell and use them themselves.
Are farmers markets good for kids?
Yes! It’s a great way to get kids involved in what they are eating. I find that kids will try more ingredients and be more open to trying new things if they take part in the process. Whether that be shopping, prepping or peeling, get them involved at every level and make it fun. Let them make choices and have a say in what’s in their morning smoothie, for example. If we allow our children more time around food, I think we will find that their palates will naturally mature along with them.
Anything else I should know?
Always check the website, if they have one, before going as hours, days and vendors may change with the seasons and products that are available.
Shopping at farmers markets is a great way to educate yourself on products that you may not see at mainstream grocery stores and is an opportunity to try something new. With all the information that is available to us right there at the market and also online, think of all the new creations you can come up with by simply allowing yourself the opportunity to try something new.
Cheers to starting a new tradition around the table together!
Founder and true believer in the power of bringing people around The Table Together!