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.
- Go early – Many experienced Farmer’s Market shoppers know to show up first thing in the morning to find the freshest, choicest produce options.
- Bring your own bag – This may sound like common sense, but having once forgotten mine, I can attest to this tips’ importance.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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?