Farmer’s Market Shopping Tips

By: Katrina Morales – The Gluten Free Gidget

 

It felt like winter would never end. Late snow kept the cooler than normal temperatures lingering and kept me reaching for my wool sweaters. Finally, though, it looks like warmer days are here to stay, and with them, Farmer’s Markets!

Each weekend, dozens of open air markets pop up throughout the city where area farmers and artisan vendors flock to sell their wares. Handmade soaps and locally made wood crafts fill these booths, but it is the fresh, locally grown produce that is the real draw. For the gluten-free foodie, a Farmer’s Market is an oasis in a world normally populated by processed, convenience foods usually ripe with gluten. I have become quite the Market aficionado over the years, and have picked up a few tips for the newbie just learning to navigate the sometimes overwhelming swath of tents & booths.

 

  1. Go early – Many experienced Farmer’s Market shoppers know to show up first thing in the morning to find the freshest, choicest produce options.
  2. Bring your own bag – This may sound like common sense, but having once forgotten mine, I can attest to this tips’ importance.
  3. Walk the entire market once before looping back to make your purchases. – With so many delicious looking fruits and vegetables, it can be easy to become distracted and begin purchasing at the first booth you see. Don’t fall into this trap! You may miss out on a much better deal/selection.
  4. Buy from booths that specialize in specific products. – ie purchase Tomatoes from a Tomato Farmer, fresh Herbs from an Herb stand, and Mushrooms from the booth overflowing with Maitakes, Criminis, and Morels.
  5. Bring cash – Now a days, most booths have the ability to accept credit cards. However, this is not always the case, and significantly slows down the process. Also, credit card companies can charge vendors a fee for each transaction. Not the best option for a small farming operation, as this fee cuts into their proceeds.
  6. Be on the lookout for fresh eggs – You have never truly tasted an omelet until you have eaten one made from fresh, local eggs! Trust me on this one.
  7. Ask questions – If you see a fruit or vegetable that looks unfamiliar, ask the vendor what it is and how he/she recommends preparing it. Most farmers love giving out free cooking tips!

 

Most of all, have fun! A Farmer’s Market is an opportunity to be a part of a community. Make it a family outing, bring the dog (if allowed), and get ready for a morning of adventure!

 

Do you have any other Farmers Market advice?

 

12 Responses to “Farmer’s Market Shopping Tips”

  1. Sue Newell says:

    If you are buying GF products at market, ask about how the products are made. Do they use a dedicated facility or bake in a facility that also bakes with wheat. It they are using a mixed facility, how do they make sure there is no cross-contamination? Using fresh pans is not good enough – flour stays in the air for several days. Where do they get their flour? Does it come from a manufacturer with a GF label. There are lots of well-meaning small bakers out there who want to bake GF products but don’t really understand what it requires.

  2. Lyn in San Juan Capistrano, Ca says:

    Certified organic produce is the best tase…and right now, strawberries are the sweetest! Want some herbs to plant…like cilantro (3 pack for $5)…give one to a neighbor…they will love you for it! Then buy a bundle of fresh cut flowers for eye-dessert in your home.

  3. KAHNA EMERY says:

    Many farmers love to share what they know,(sometimes insider information), and they love to be helpful. I learned of a place that uses many insecticides so I chose not to buy produce grown in that region. There was a lady from East India, I think, that I bought my first samosa from. Loved it!

  4. Jodi says:

    Great tips !! (tried and true) #6 For sure! I haven’t bought eggs from a store in over six years!! ( @Jakki- great tip for newcomers to know how to tell a fresh egg! ) Love Udi’s~ I am having a House Party so I can help others see what great-tasting gluten free options are available! Thanks!

  5. Trish says:

    I find most farmers will make you a deal if you buy a large quantity or if you couple a few things together, maybe a handful of tomatoes and a pepper or two. They know giving you a deal to try that pepper comes back to profit down the road. Also it is not a bad idea to have a hard plastic bowl in the bottom of your bag- so you have a place to protect squishy things… then as you fill the bag, the bowl can ride on top of the onions and things that will not squish.

  6. Jakki says:

    Good tips! I will say that since farmers don’t have the same way of checking eggs that the big companies do, I have come across more rotten eggs at farmers markets than in grocery stores, however, the taste difference makes it worth buying them, anyway! I simply recommend doing the “float test” with farmers market eggs before cracking them into a dish so that the whole thing isn’t ruined with one rotten egg. (Put the eggs in water and if it sinks it’s good, if it floats it’s rotten, and if it touches the bottom but points up then it’s still good but needs to be used immediately.)

  7. Kristyl Murley says:

    Have a budget. It’s easy to go overboard because everything looks so good. And don’t be afraid to try new things. Found purple carrots and rainbow bell peppers, both were beautiful and delicious!

  8. Sarah says:

    Some markets have gluten free options- In Des Moines we sell gf crepes, cakes, cookies & cheesecakes. Sweet Treat without Wheat.

  9. Kat Powell says:

    Thank you for market tips!!

  10. Great tips! And #6 is so so so true! We buy about 6 dozen eggs every two weeks from a local place who feeds their chickens organic feed and they are cage free/free range. Love the taste of the eggs!!!

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