Explore: How to Master Your Local Farmer’s Market

Explore: How to Master Your Local Farmer's Market
Hi everyone, it’s Ilana from Team LC. My weekends aren’t complete without a stroll though the stalls of my local farmers market. It’s my favorite way to spend a leisurely Sunday morning—doing my food shopping for the week as I take in the sights, smells, and tastes around me. Not only are farmers markets the easiest way to support your local growers (which is the eco chic thing to do), they’re the best place to find ultra-fresh and flavorful produce. But if you’re new to the farmers market scene, it can certainly be a bit overwhelming. Luckily, I consider myself a seasoned pro when it comes to buying local, seasonal fruits and veggies—which is why Lauren asked me to share this blog with you. So before you grab your reusable grocery bag and send yourself off into the sea of produce, here are a few tips and tricks to keep in mind…

1. Time your visit. Arriving early is the best way to avoid crowds and have your pick of the best selection of produce. The middle hours, however, are generally the most lively and best for people watching. Pickings will be slim near closing time, but that’s also when the best deals are to be found. Most farmers would rather sell their stock at a discounted price than have to haul it back home.

2. Know your seasons. Buying in season is tastier and cheaper. Epicurious has a handy dandy interactive map for finding out what’s in season where you live.
Explore: How to Master Your Local Farmer's Market
3. Be a bargain hunter. Not all stalls are created equal. I always do a quick survey of the entire market before making my purchases. This is the best way to ensure you’re getting the prettiest produce at the best price.

4. Multitask. In addition to tender greens, juicy peaches, and berries bursting with flavor, most farmers markets have stalls selling coffee, cheese, farm fresh eggs, freshly baked bread, flowers, and even local honey. If you plan things right, you might be able to skip your trip to the grocery store altogether.

5. Be adventurous. Never tried kohlrabi, squash blossoms, or fresh passion fruit before? Exotic fruits and vegetables are commonplace at farmers markets, so come prepared with an appetite (literally!) for adventure.

6. Ask questions. The growers are right there, so take advantage of it. Ask them where your food comes from and how it was grown. They might even have some tips on how to prepare it or some samples to hand out.
Explore: How to Master Your Local Farmer's Market
7. Understand organic. Many small farms that follow organic growing practices choose to skip USDA certification because of its high cost. So instead of stopping at “Is your farm organic?” (which refers to the official USDA label) follow up with more specific questions like, “Do you use pesticides?”

8. A little dirt won’t hurt. Organic produce won’t always look as pristine as it is in the supermarket, but don’t let that deter you. Just be sure to rinse your produce thoroughly before serving. I try to remind myself that a little dirt (and yes, even the occasional creepy crawly) is a lot less scary than the harmful chemicals used in conventional growing methods.

9. Join a CSA. Too busy to shop the farmers market? Joining a CSA, or Community Supported Agriculture program, is a quick and easy way to support your local growers. Think of it as a magazine subscription only with produce. You purchase a “share” from the farm at the beginning of the season, and then they set aside a box of produce for you weekly or monthly.

Are you ready to take on your local market?

I’d love to hear about your farmers market experience in the comments.

xo Ilana
Team LC

Photo: Heather Bullard

Categories: Grow, Ilana Saul
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  • Melissa Panici

    Thanks for this post LLana! I have to admit, I have never bought from a farmers market before. I always get mine at the grocery store just to save time but I’m looking forward to trying this out!

  • Ashley Rizzardo

    Great post, Ilana! Just this past weekend a friend and I went down to the farmer’s market in the Strip District. And we also have a CSA farm just a walk from our house, back home, where I have volunteered.

    http://allthatglitters.co.nr

  • Loes Albert

    Lovely post Ilana! Buying bags full of delicious fruits and vegetables is just thousand times better than buying bags full of candy and chocolate! It gives you a way better feeling!

  • Meghan Conard

    Great tips! I’m dying to check out the farmer’s market in LA!
    Check out my new post http://mc2squared.blogspot.com
    xx-MC

  • Leila Durmaz

    Great article Llana! I love my town’s farmer’s market and these tips are super helpful when it comes to effectively shopping farmers, especially for a college student like me!

    http://chicisms.com

  • hooleywithaz

    i absolutely love our farmer’s market here in st. paul. i can only go in the warmer months, because, you know, i live in the tundra, but it is so worth it for the local food! here’s a post on my favorite type of farmer’s market trip: http://hooleywithaz.com/2012/08/20/farmers-market-sunday/

  • Rachel Trampel

    Great tips! I really need to make it to the Farmer’s Market when it is open again this spring! I will use these tips then :)

    http://www.rachelslookbook.com

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  • Katjusha Bricman

    Well if veggies and fruits doesn’t look perfect as in stores, that just means they’re home grown and much more healthyer!

  • My Style Diary

    Great tips! Unfortunately I don’t have any big farmers markets around where I live but when I see one I always take some time to check it out. I love the atmosphere and fresh products! My parents actually got a tunnel recently so we are going to start growing our own food :)

    http://mystylediaryblogspot.blogspot.com/

  • Emily

    I often can completely skip grocery shopping by just heading to the farmers markets. We have great stalls where i live.
    xo Emily @ http://www.hungrydelights.com/

  • Leanne

    I love farmers markets. It’s lovely to get such fresh ingredients

    http://arumlilea.blogspot.com

  • Giselle Escamilla

    I love shopping at the local farmers market which the people knows me and my dad haha we always go every friday! its a lot fun and great to meet new people!

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  • Lena Ameri

    The last tip is my favorite! I often don’t have time to hit the farmers market, so I signed up for this program that brings the farmer’s market to me! every month I get a box full of fruits and veggies that are currently in season. It really forces me to be creative with my cooking and also makes healthy eating more exciting! I’ve discovered some new favorite, like persimmon! yumm!!

    http://www.liveitmag.com/

  • Taanjaa

    Going to try these tips :)

    http://tanjaslookbook.blogspot.com/

  • Nathalia

    I love going to farmers markets, but where I live they are usually on weekdays in the mornings, which is when I have most of my classes. So annoying. But I have also been considering getting a basket of vegetables delivered, which might also make for interesting cuisine, because you never know which vegetables you will be getting.

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  • claire livia

    Love this post, I just wrote on my blog about the good finds at my local winters market! http://liviasweets.com/post/42202199788/sunday-salad-raw-winter-veg-salad-with-horseradish

  • bree_gama

    This post has inspired me to check out my local farmers market!

  • The Vibrant Banana

    I just went to one last Thursday! I have never in my life seen strawberries look so red and juicy! They also had some DIVINE fried pies. I’m in love with farmer’s markets.

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    They look very fresh and very tasty.

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