- ARRIVE EARLY
Just like your grocery store, everything (produce, meat, dairy, eggs and prepared goods) comes in limited quantities, first come, first served. However, if you’re one of the first to arrive you’ll be guaranteed the best selection. Arriving early also means a quieter less crowded market, and offers you opportune time to speak with the farmers and food producers about their products.
- MAKE A LOOP FIRST
The best way to tackle a farmers’ market is by making a loop around the entire market first. Stay on the outskirts of the crowd and take mental notes of which booths you want to come back to. Then, after you’ve seen all the market has to offer, you can better decide how you want to spend your money. If you expect to spend a good deal of time at the market, make large purchases shortly before leaving so you won’t have to carry them around.
- BE FLEXIBLE
When shopping for food, most people come prepared with a list, usually pertaining to recipes they have in mind for the week. With a farmers’ market though we suggest you use recipes as a guide but be flexible and able to adapt depending on the selection of ingredients. This way you’ll get to choose the freshest, best looking food
- TALK TO YOUR FARMER
Got questions about what you’re buying? Farmers are proud of what they do so don’t be shy to ask them how they grow their food, when something was picked or prepared, or how they care for their livestock. They’ll be happy to share.
- INVEST IN WHEELS
If you buy a lot every week, consider acquiring a wheeled cart.
- BUY IN VOLUME
The best deals at the farmers market are had when you buy in bulk. You’ll enjoy the best flavours and the best prices when you buy lots of whatever is at its harvest peak.
- BRING BIG BAGS & SMALL CHANGE
Some farmers market vendors offer bags, but they tend to be thin and flimsy plastic ones that groan under the pressure of any substantial produce purchase. Make sure everything gets home from the market without crashing onto the sidewalk or spilling onto the floor of your car by bringing your own sturdy canvas or nylon bags. A backpack can make the hauling easier, especially for weighty or bulky items.
- MAKE IT A FAMILY AFFAIR
A trip to the market is a social affair. Bring your kids with you and let them be involved in the selecting, purchasing and cooking of the food. Learning about food and where it comes from is an important step in childhood development for future healthy and happy eaters.
Looking for Roma tomatoes for a sauce? How about a large batch of fresh strawberries to make jam? Many vendors allow for pre-order of cases of their product, so you can be sure that you’ll get the quantity you need.
- SPREAD THE WORD
Farmers’ markets can’t survive without tons of local support. Make a point of telling your friends when you’ve discovered something awesome at the market. Remember that the vast majority of vendors are sole proprietors, farmers, and local craftspeople who need your support to survive. Check out your local market, and make sure you don’t keep it a secret. By using word-of-mouth recommendations, you can make sure your favorite market sticks around for years to come.