10 Tips for Finding the Best Quality, Deals at Farmer’s MarketsMay 15, 2013
10 Tips for Finding the Best Quality, Deals at Farmer’s Markets
‘Tis the season for fresh produce! Get out to a local Farmer’s Market for flavor far beyond what you’ve been pulling from
the grocery store shelves.
Hitting a Farmer’s Market is an entire experience. Discover richer flavors, great deals and a vast amount of background about where your food is coming from and how it’s grown.
We have a map and listing of Southern WV’s Farmer’s Markets. Find one near you to explore, or pop around and compare a few.
Some highlights include:
- Hearty ramps, a state delicacy, from various vendors across Southern WV, including the Fayette County Farmer’s Market.
- Convenient online ordering (for pickup) from the Monroe Farm Market
- An eclectic selection of artisan crafts, like herbal soaps and goat milk soap, and home-baked Israeli breads at the Lewisburg Farmer’s Market
- Deli-style meats and cheeses from the Crook Brothers Farmer’s Market
First time Farmer’s Market shopper? Looking to up your market browsing game? Try these 10 tips for Farmer’s Market shopping:
1. Go early
If you want first pick, you have to be first in line. See when the market opens, and head there soon after. If you can’t shake yourself awake that early, try going late. Vendors will be trying to get rid of their food for the day, so they may offer more discounts right before they close.
2. Look around first
Smart shopping rules apply! Prices and quality will vary from vendor to vendor, so seek out the best deals and flavors by covering the whole market first, instead of snatching up fruits from the first bin you see.
3. Seek out Brightness
Generally, bold colors mean bold flavor. Look for bright fruits and vegetables, and create yourself a rainbow of fresh taste.
4. Store Correctly
Be careful when handling your produce. Arrange your bag so fragile items are at the top. Buying herbs? Cover them with a wet paper towel and seal them in a bag to keep them fresh on the ride home. If you’re trekking far, bring a cooler along as well. Put your food away right when you get home, and wash it right before you prepare it.
5. Be open to discovery
You can make a list and know what you’d like to find, but you never know what local growers are experimenting with. Maybe something you haven’t tried will catch your eye. Be sure to ask about local favorites. Here in Southern West Virginia, you’ll want to pick up some ramps if you spot them.
And, don’t think your list has to be limited to produce. Many local farmers also sell other fresh items, like meats, eggs, jams and jellies. Flowers and other plants are also a staple at many markets. Keep the flavor coming by buying potted herbs that will continue to provide you with leaves throughout the year.
Not all vendors will have bags for you to use, and even if they do, you can save the farmers some overhead costs by bringing your own. Make sure to find something sturdy. If you’re planning a big takeaway, consider a rolling cart.
7. Carry Small Bills and Change
Many vendors will accept credit cards, but not all do. Having exact change is helpful to the farmers, who may not always have an excess of change to pass out.
8. Buy in Bulk
You can get amazing prices on produce by buying in bulk. If you don’t think you’ll be able to use it up quickly enough, remember you can freeze, can and dry goods to extend their shelf life.
9. Ask For Tips & Info
The farmers know their crops, and they will gladly talk to you about their handiwork, or give you recipe ideas. Keep in mind that if you’re shopping organic, smaller growers might be growing organically, but not all of them can afford the USDA distinction. If you aren’t sure, just ask.
10. Taste Test
Sample similar offerings from different vendors, and learn which tastes you like best. You can develop relationships with your favorite vendors, who may in turn offer you deals or a heads up when they’ll be carrying something new.
Be sure to let us know how your trip goes! Which market is your favorite?