This past weekend I ventured to the farmers market with a friend to bring back some helpful tips to assist you in navigating your local market. I truly feel that if you want to support your local community and your health then getting to your farmers market is one of the best things you can do. Read why Allie prioritizes local over organic here. Eating and buying local gives back to the economy and encourages growth in your community. It connects you directly to your farmers. You pay them directly which is a very powerful act when it comes to buying your food these days. Locally grown products are fresher as well. Tell me, who doesn’t like fresh produce?! Supporting your local farmers market gives variety and allows you to enjoy seasonally delicious foods when they are the most abundant and least expensive. It is a win win solution people! Below are seven tips to get your started:

Timing is everything

The time you make it to the farmers market makes a big difference. Usually it is good to get there in the earlier hours before all the good stuff gets gone. Keep this in mind when you are really wanting something particular. However, if you want to get some deals arriving within the last hour might be a good idea, because often farmers will discount items to not have to worry with taking them back.

Bring your own bag, maybe a cooler

IMG_1329Invest in a earth-friendly reusable bag or basket to bring with you. This will save on plastic for sure, and bonus, it is a lot more sturdy. Also, make sure if you are going to be purchasing eggs, cheese, or meat you bring a cooler with ice. If you want to purchase ice there, most of the vendors selling these items should have some to purchase. Just ask if you are not sure. Below are some adorable farmers market friendly bag/basket ideas:

Ask questions

Get to know where the food is coming from. Get to know the farm and farmers personally. Ask as many questions as you want. It is important not to simply assume all food at the farmers market is top quality, especially when it comes to how the food was grown. Get to know the lingo. Some farmers have to pay high costs to have their food labeled as organic by the USDA, but that does not mean that they are using pesticides on their farm. If the farm does not label certified organic, just ask why. Ask if the meat and poultry is grass-fed and pasture-raised. In building these relationships you not only increase your knowledge, but you also set a standard to farmers that says, “I care about how my food is grown.” That’s a great message! Some additional questions to ask:

  • What are your cows eating?
  • Is your farm open to the public?
  • If you spray, what do you spray?

Compare price and quantity

Before you purchase walk around the market and compare prices. You might see some beautiful fresh strawberries for $14, but on down the way you find the same strawberries for $10. It pays to scope it all out first. This same principle applies any time you go to the grocery store, most likely you go with the item that meets your needs at is the most cost-effective. Usually you can also find better deals if you buy in quantity. You could always make a bigger batch of something and freeze it or save to use later in the week in another dish. Plan ahead and it might save you money and time. That’s always a good thing!

Bring cash

Not all markets take credit or debit cards. Know this up front. Bring cash and usually smaller bills. It just makes it easier on everyone.

Be adventurous

IMG_1342Try something new! Remember how we asked you to try a new fruit or vegetable in our 2 week Health Challenge? Same principle applies here. Often at farmers markets you can find more unique options that you do not always find at your grocery store. Why not give it a try? I stumbled upon quail eggs this weekend, and really wanted to try them! I however, forgot a cooler, so that is why that tip is important =) Also, try the samples, even if you think you would not like it. You might really surprise yourself.

Don’t forget the flowers

Ok, this might be a woman thing, but if the market is selling flowers… treat yourself! Bringing life into your home not only enhances your homes beauty, but it also enhances our moods and enjoyment in life. It is a good reminder that there is beauty all around us and that we should be spending more time outdoors soaking it all up! Get you some flowers! To the men reading this… yes, your woman wants them.

So there you have it! Share your awesome tips with us please!

Additional Resources:
Eat Local App
 
Photo Credit: Lynsey Wilson

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