If you live in North America and love fresh produce as much as I do, this has to be THE best time of year for you, too! I am all about finding ways to make food prep easy and delicious for myself, my family and for you. You might also know that the fresher your fruit and veggies are, the better the flavor and higher the nutrient content is on your plate.
One of the best ways to get fresh picked produce is from a local farmers market. While some remain open all year round, others that operate seasonally are just opening now. If you don’t know where to find one, this link will help you find one near you.
I love my farmers market and even though I try to grow as much food as I can in my own garden when the season permits, I still visit my local farmers market every Sunday for those items that I cannot grow myself. I wish you were all local so we could all meet there next Sunday and shop together, but since that is not the case, I thought I would send you my TIPS FOR GETTING THE MOST OUT OF SHOPPING AT YOUR FARMERS MARKET! ? ? ? ? ?
- Go early for the best selection. The farmers can only bring what they have picked that week, and often times they run out of items. So if you want the best variety, plan to arrive as early as you can but check first to see when your market opens.
- Go later for the best deals. If saving money is your priority, shopping later can be helpful. At the end of the market, some of the farmers prefer to sell what’s left at a discount rather than bringing remaining produce back with them.
- Get to know your farmers. It is both rewarding and educational to get to know the people who grow the food you are enjoying. Many of the farmers at my market have become friends. There is a great sense of community that comes from engaging them about their passions. And they are always a great source of knowledge and information.
- Ask questions!I have never met a vendor at the farmers market who wouldn’t happily answer my questions. Think about what is important to you. When I shop, I want to know: Is the produce certified organic? If not, do they spray? And if so, what kind of spray do they use? I also like to ask if they grow all the food the sell. And my favorite question: do they allow people to come to their farm? (I have spent time visiting many of my local farms and found that to be so enlightening…but that’s a story for another day).
- Always bring your own bags! Obviously, you need a place to put all your goodies. If I am bringing my pup with me (which I usually do), I actually bring a cart to make it easier to carry heavy items. Also, many vendors will not offer bags.
- If you are driving and it’s hot, bring a cooler with ice packs.This is a great lesson I learned long ago. If you have a cooler, you can buy anything you want and not worry that things will wilt or spoil before you get them home.
- Don’t be afraid of ugly produce. When you are buying straight from the grower, not all produce will look perfect. Most of the time it won’t change anything about the taste. Again, you can always ask the vendor to tell you if the look will change anything else. I have found them to be honest every time. They may even have tips or recommendations for you.
- Eat Seasonally. One of the best parts of shopping this way is that you get to buy what is fresh picked that day or the day before (which, as I mentioned earlier, means better flavor and more nutrients). You will benefit greatly by being flexible about what you buy. Sometimes you might come across some produce that is unfamiliar or outside of your normal wheelhouse. Don’t be intimidated! Look up the item on the spot if you are able (I LOVE my phone for this!??), and find some ideas right at the market. Or if not, ask your farmer for some ideas or recommendations. They are always happy to share.
- Check out this link for inspiration and join the free Nourished Body and Mind Facebook Community for more ideas and support or if Instagram is your jam you can find me here.
Now I’d love to hear from you, do you have a farmers market that you frequent? What’s your favorite part about the experience of shopping this way?