Follow these quick and easy tips that will have you shopping at your farmers market like a pro.
As the Green Movement has grown in popularity, so has the ability to get fresh, local ingredients. Farmer’s markets are popping up throughout America and with good reason too. Sure, grocery stores are convenient and stocked full of produce but most of the fruits and vegetables have been traveling for weeks or more before they ever reach your cart. Most fruits are picked while they are still unripe, only to be transferred several miles by boat or plane, and then stored in a warehouse where they are sprayed down with gasses to cause quick ripening. Produce at the store is often full of harmful pesticides or has been the subject of genetic modification. You can avoid all this by shopping at your locals farmers market. By simply being prepared, you can shop smarter and even make some healthy choices along the way. Here are the top five tips for famers market shopping.
1. Know Your Seasons: Farmers markets provide the freshest ingredients possible. Know what is in season ahead of time will help you get a rough idea of what sort of meals you should plan for during the week. If Spring is in full bloom, you can generally expect to see an abundance of asparagus or strawberries! Plan your meals after your shopping is done, based off of what is fresh.
2. Buy in Bulk: You will get the very best bang for your buck, buying in bulk. Produce at the farmer’s market is picked at it’s peak of freshness. Once you get home, divide the produce into what you are going to use that week and freeze the rest for a later time. If you are feeling extra crafty, you can experiment with canning and preserving as well. You will be thanking yourself when you have fresh ingredients to enjoy once their season has ended. As a bonus, farmers will usually offer a better deal for goods bought in bulk.
3. Go Early: They say “The early bird gets the worm.” Well it couldn’t be more true for farmers markets. The freshest and most beautiful ingredients are the first to go. Show up early for the best selection and less crowds. You can find out where your local farmers markets are and their hours of operation on this website.
4. Come Prepared: Bags at farmers markets can often be flimsy. Do yourself a favor and bring your own bag or totes to make shopping more convenient. You will also be helping the environment by saving on plastic bags! Also, bring small bills and coins! Having change on you will help expedite the shopping process. Farmers often have cash boxes but if you go early there is a chance that they may not have adequate change to work with yet.
5. Purchase a “Green Cleaner”: A major bonus of shopping at the farmers market is that the produce is fresh and unprocessed. So therefore the food will still be in its natural state. After purchasing your produce, you will need to process and wash all your fresh ingredients a little more throughly then you would of those at the grocery store. It is possible that the greens or root vegetables may still have dirt on them. Find an organic cleaner that you like and prep all your produce when you arrive home, before storing and eating. You can even make your own at home. All you need to do is make a mixture of water, vinegar, baking soda and lemon juice and then use it as a spray, rinse or soak.
My local farmers market is right on the beach and is one of our favorite weekly activities. Baby Stella loves to help me shop for ingredients and always seems to get me in good rapport with the local vendors. That little girl has an eye for a deal. 😉 By shopping seasonly, we get to enjoy the freshest produce possible. You haven’t lived unless you have indulged in a big, juicy strawberry as spring melts away the winter blues. Below are a few of my favorite ways to use local ingredients.
Farmer’s Market Recipes: