If April showers bring May flowers, then May sun brings Farmers Market FUN! Many of our local farmer’s have been nurturing little seedlings since the middle of winter, and they are just as excited as we are to display their wares at your nearest Farmers Market. Jessica has some tips for you for bringing the best of the bounty home!
1. Shopping with kids
What better way to teach our kids about where real food comes from than to introduce them to the farmer who grew it. Many sellers will even offer kids tastes of veggies fresh from the garden. Although farmer’s markets are certainly kid-friendly, you might want to consider leaving the stroller at home. Known for being packed with small booths and large amounts of people, maneuvering a stroller can often get tricky. I also recommend bringing reusable bags or totes to help you juggle your food in addition to your kids. While you will be saving the planet, you also will be saving the circulation in your fingers (have you ever tried to carry a cantaloupe in a plastic bag?).
2. Shop strategically
Speaking of that cantaloupe, if you know you are going to be getting heavier produce, browse through the booths and come back for those last. Speaking from experience, a great deal on five pounds of potatoes sounds good until you are toting them through throngs of people. If you can score a close parking spot, you can also do drop-offs along the way. This also goes for things that might need to be kept cold like meat and dairy items. I like to keep a reusable cooler bag in my car just in case I can’t pass up that homemade log of basil infused goat cheese.
3. Eat adventurously
Make your meal plan based on what’s in season. Better yet, shop at the farmer’s market and pick up new foods that catch your eye, then go home and search for new recipes that highlight those items. You might find out that purple carrots, beets, or arugula are your new favorite food. And while you’re meal planning, you might find that many of your typical grocery items can all be found at the market. So keep your eye out for fresh eggs, homemade breads, and artisan cheeses. You can pretty much guarantee they will have more taste than those on the grocery store shelf. Try to restrain yourself from buying every beautiful bunch, though. Nothing is worse than spoiled fruits and veggies that you so proudly bagged. Follow this guide courtesy of The Snug that will help you remember the longevity of your produce.
4. Take small bills
Although some vendors will take credit cards on their swipe devices, it’s much easier on everyone if you have cash in your pocket. Since you will be buying a few dollars worth here and a few dollars worth there, keep small bills handy in an easily accessible location.
5. More than food that meets the eye
Some of my favorite purchases from my farmers market are anything but food. I love the organic cleaning products and all natural bars of soap that I bring home. The armfuls of fresh picked flowers that we load up on rival those from any florist. Many markets also have jewelry artists, potters, wood workers, and more. Support your local makers!
6. Be a locavore
The very best part of a farmers market is getting to know the people behind the food. What an incredible experience to have the opportunity to talk to the person who hand-picked your vegetables that morning before dawn. Ask them which variety of tomato is their favorite, or what on earth they do with a rutabaga. Since they are passionate about their food, some of that passion is bound to rub off on you. And when you buy local, you are literally putting food on another family’s table, while feeding your own family. Farmer’s markets are more than just a fun way to buy food, it’s a way for communities to support each other. So strap on your comfy shoes, and don’t forget your water, sunscreen, and a snack for the kids!
Do you have a favorite farmers market tip to share with us?