Here are 10 tips to make the most of a trip to your local farmers market for delicious, nutritious, inexpensive, and locally grown fruits and vegetables straight from the farm to your kitchen table. Seasonal produce such as spring vegetables are bountiful right now, so don't wait until the weekend to grab your reusable bags.
1. Find the best spot.
Your adventure should start online at a site like Local Harvest to find farmer's markets in your area. Many markets are located in different neighborhoods on different days of the week in large cities. Find one nearby, or explore a new part of town.
2. Make a list.
While you may make spontaneous buys at a farmers market because you never know exactly what you’ll find, it still helps to make a list of must-get items for the week’s meals.
3. Include the kids.
Expose the kids to a wide array of healthy fruits and veggies that will look and taste better than those at the grocery store. Let them sample, and buy new foods they may otherwise ignore.
4. Bring cash and cards.
Nowadays, most farmers and vendors accept credit, debit and sometimes contactless cards. If using cash, remember to bring small bills so you can pay using exact change.
5. Walk or bike. Take active routes to your local market, if possible. Consider bringing a wagon, stroller or bike basket to help transport your goods home. If you must drive, increase your total daily steps by trekking through the entire market.
6. Visit each booth.
Many markets also include eggs, meat, fish, dairy products, flowers and plants, and other items. Walk around to see what items are available and to get a sense of costs. You may find two farmers selling the same item for a notably different price.
You can sample items that you haven’t considered buying before, compare the taste of similar items from different vendors, and offer your kids a chance to try new items. Since it can take 15 to 20 times of tasting a previously rejected food for a child to actually like it, continue visiting the market! Keep in mind, some vendors may not offer samples due to COVID-19 restrictions.
8. Learn about farms.
Transform your outing into a cultural experience by encouraging the kids to ask the farmers questions about what it is like to work on a farm or how to grow food.
9. Go around closing time for the best deals.
A little-known secret is that many farmers will reduce prices (or be more open to bartering) near closing time since most don’t want to lug home the unsold food.
10. Make a habit of it.
Include the farmers market in your weekly routine. You will encounter different seasonal fruit and vegetables, and you will benefit your community, local farmers, and your family’s health.