Definition: A farmers market is a place where farmers sell their products directly to consumers. Ultra-fresh produce, meat and eggs, artisan cheeses, hand-harvested honey, and other fresh, small-batch foodstuffs are the hallmark of the best farmers markets.
Nowadays you will also find many non-food hand made items at your farmer’s market. There are not as many farmers as there used to be and they fill in the gaps when produce is not available.
Farmer’s Markets are not just a place for farmers to get the best price and consumers to get the best products, but as venues for producers and consumers of food to come together, forge relationships, and exchange information.
Shopping at a farmer’s market is the easiest way to eat locally and contribute to your local economy. Approximately 95% of every dollar you spend stays local.
If you know a bit of what to expect when you get to the farmers market, making decisions at each stall is much easier.
- Bring bags, coolers and maybe a wagon
You can bring your own sturdy canvas or nylon bags. A backpack can make the hauling easier, especially for weighty or bulky items. A wagon comes in handy for those bushels of tomatoes, watermelon or pumpkins. Coolers are great not just for the meat but for your produce especially if you are not going straight home.
- Small Bills
Although vendors will make change, purchases will go easier and faster if you have exact (or close to exact) change.
- Plan Meals Ahead of Time
If you know what you’re likely to find at the farmers market, you can do a bit of meal planning and shop accordingly. But…
- Plan For Spontaneity
Yes, you’ll fare better if you plan your trip to the farmers market. However, you need to leave a bit of wiggle room for the zucchini you didn’t know would be at market so early, or the patty pan squash you’ve never tried before. Trying new things is part of the fun of going to farmers markets. You can ask the grower how they like to prepare the item. Chances are they can give you a simple recipe since they don’t have a lot of cooking time either during the summer.
- Buy in Quantity
You’ll also get a great deal if you buy in bulk. Even if you’re not the canning type, why not buy a whole box of plum tomatoes instead of just a pint? Toss in five pounds of onions and a couple of bunches of basil and make a big batch of sauce to freeze. It hardly takes any longer than making a dinner’s-worth, and you’ll thank yourself many a late-working evening.
- Shop early for selection
The season’s first crop of anything will not be in abundance and will disappear within the first hour that the market is open, so if you’ve got your heart set on something in particular, it pays to get there when they open.