Tips for your next Farmer's Market Trip
Updated: Aug 12, 2019
How to navigate the stands, find the greatest deals and score the tastiest foods like a pro!
Have you see the people that roll up to the market, canvas bag on hand smiling, they seem to know each farmer by name, I swear they have a fresh pie waiting for them at the bakery stand. Now there are those who visit the farmer's market every Saturday to stock up on fresh produce for the week and high-quality cheeses for their weekend entertaining. And then, there are those who visit once, feel overwhelmed and leave with a just a basket of peaches. They haven't had the opportunity to take full advantage of the market. But who can blame them? Navigating a farmers' market can be intimidating for newbies. Where do you start? What do you look for? How do the offerings differ from those at the local grocery store? Are the benefits of buying local produce actually worth the hassle? Here are some helpful tips for your next trip:
SHOP MIDWEEK MARKETS
Many farmers’ markets have both weekend and weekday hours. I don't know about you but I hate crowds, doing things during the week cuts that out. It’s the summer-perfect time to take a day off and explore your city. When my kids were little we used to make a morning of it. I took a wagon ride when I was 9 months pregnant with kid 2 to try and bounce her out, It did nothing, but I think I ate a fresh apple pie to myself!! Back to mid-week .... try it out.
CASH IS KING
While some of the vendors will accept debit, most only take cash, small bills and change are preferable.
SHOW UP EARLY
Hot seasonal items, such as strawberries, peaches and cherries, tend to sell out quickly. Kid 2 requested I make raspberry chia seed jam. (check out my recipe, if you haven't already) I stopped at a local stand near my house, expecting to grab and go, granted it was late in the day. The owner let me know, always best to come early and be mindful of the time of year. In other words, if there is a long weekend or a holiday coming up, the market will be a lot busier. We have enough negative vibes, we certainly don't need to come to fist to cuff over seasonal cherries, baked goods maybe ....
BE A SAVVY SHOPPER
I was raised by a shopper, I'm telling you Pauline (my mom, aka my senior) knows her stuff, whether it be shoes, or a good melon. Her idea of sightseeing while traveling was different markets. Mom did teach me to walk around first not to be temped by the first cute guy, I mean raspberry, you see right when you walk into the market. Don’t buy them — yet ....you may miss out on something even better. Also note, prices can vary widely from stall to stall, so take a lap around the market (cardio) before pulling out your money. This way, you’ll know you’re getting the best deal and the highest quality products.
KNOW YOUR SEASONS
I always encourage clients to eat seasonally. Seasonal produce is hand-picked at its peak time for more nutrients and amazing flavour. Have a look at www.farmersmarketontario.com. The website helps you to see what produce is currently in season before you go. Also lets you know where local markets are located, hours etc. Seriously nothing worse than getting toddlers ready for the trip to the market and get there, its closed!
BRING YOUR OWN BAGS
Some of the vendors will have bags for you, but, just like your favourite fruit, they could run out before you get there. The bag I'm carrying in my pic I got from Ikea, serious, no assembly!! Also wise to carry a cooler bag, or if I'm doing a day trip I toss a cooler in the truck of the car and go!
TALK TO THE FARMERS ABOUT THEIR PRODUCTS
One of the best things about shopping at farmers markets is the people you will meet. If you want to know produce is organic or how the products were grown, just ask. I get recipes, ideas, nutritional information and cooking tips straight from the source who grow the food. It's like interviewing the produce.
BUY IN BULK (WHEN YOU CAN)
Did you some of the farmers will have special deals if you buy one of their products in bulk. For example if want a flat of strawberries it will cost you less in the end than buying them in a quart. You can freeze them, the frozen berries and bananas are perfect for your morning smoothie. If you decide to buy in bulk, talk to the farmer the week before, so they can make sure to have enough of what you need. Build relationships with the farmers, they are a great source for a well stocked kitchen.
TRY SOMETHING NEW
Let's face it we all eat the same thing day in day out. Now is the time to try something new, I'm not talking Survivor island food, I'm talking try a new variety of tomato. Did you know in Ontario there are over 300 different varieties of tomatoes grown, and lets face it we end up with the same hot house tomato day in day out and then complain how they taste. Discovering new, tasty products is half the fun of shopping at the market. Many of the farmers will have samples out for you to try. Challenge yourself to try something you’ve never seen before, and you may just find a new favourite.
Farmers markets are definitely a favourite
of mine, trust me I’m all about shopping online for almost anything, but when it comes to food, there is nothing better than a farmers market. You can do like me take a camera, you get the cutest pics!