Thursday, May 3, 2012

3 Tips for Shopping the Local Farmers Markets

 As spring harvest season is upon us, the opening of our favorite shopping venues is just around the corner -- the Farmers' Market. I can't wait to gather some farm fresh fruits and veggies, home-baked breads and numerous other goodies from the markets in my area. Guest blogger, Maria Rainier, is a freelance writer and blog junkie! Currently a resident blogger at First in Education, Maria writes about education, online colleges, online degrees, etc. In her spare time, she enjoys square-foot gardening, swimming and avoiding her laptop! Today on the blog, she is sharing her best tips for shopping the local farmers' markets.

Farmers' Market offerings from WillowHill Springs Farm

3 Tips for Shopping the Local Farmers' Markets

Farmers' markets are one of the best ways to find locally sourced, natural, and fresh produce. As obesity and diabetes continue to threaten the health of our society, a real food revolution has taken place throughout the United States. Many individuals, stores, and restaurants are placing more importance on fresh, all-natural products rather than highly processed and unhealthy items. We have also become more inspired to buy our food locally in recent years, supporting our local economy and finding truly fresh items.  Of course, one of the best ways to accomplish all of these things in one place is by scrounging the local farmers' markets. As the warm summer months roll in, farmers' markets are going to crop up more and more often. Farmers' markets are one of the best ways to save money on your produce and find the best quality product out there. Use these three tips to be as successful as possible at your next farmers' market trip.  

Flowers are one of my favorite farmers' market finds!

Always Take Cash

Cash is always your best bet at a farmers' market event. While some vendors may accept credit or debit cards with from their smartphones, it's a much safer bet to just take plenty of cash on hand to pay for your items. Many larger farmers' markets will have ATMs set up throughout the area. However, this convenience often comes with fairly hefty ATM charges that just aren't worth it. Take cash with you. To save some money overall, you should go with an idea of what you'd like and only take enough cash for those items. This can help taper your spending. Also, many farmers' markets participate in the WIC Farmers' Market Nutrition Program, providing supplemental foods, health care referrals, and nutrition education at no cost to low-income women, infants, and children who are found at nutritional risk. This program offers coupons to these individuals so that they can purchase fresh and nutritious fruits, vegetables, and herbs free of charge.

Another key trick to mastering farmers' markets the right way is really understanding your seasons. If you know a little something about what to expect when you get the market, you can make your decisions about what to get more easily. Take the time to learn about what types of produce grow in what seasons. You should try to educate yourself on the specific produce that you are interested in finding at the market as well. The more you know about the product, the more likely you will be to find the best produce available. Learn what things grow in what areas to get a better idea of what might be available. You can talk to the growers about what will be showing up in the markets in the future weeks and what to look for in specific items. Insider knowledge like this can be extremely useful for any farmers' market goer. 

Flowers from WillowHill Springs Farm!

Bring a Cooler

It's also a good idea to consider the easiest ways to carry the items you purchase around before you go to a farmers' market. One thing that many people overlook is actually getting around the event with all of the fresh produce you purchase. Take some bags and coolers with you so that you can easily store the things you purchase. If you decided to take some coolers with ice packs, you can keep them in your car and then put the fresh things that need to stay cool in there. You don't want to purchase brand new, freshly cropped items, just to let them wilt and wither in the summer's heat after you buy them. The whole idea of the farmers' market is to get things that are totally fresh. Think ahead so that you can bring the very best product back home with you. 

What items are you most excited about buying at this season's farmers' markets?


  1. Ahhhh, a COOLER! I never even thought about that. Genius!


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