Your local Farmer's Market is a great place to shop directly from the source. When buying directly from the farmer, the money goes right into their pocket, which helps feed your community. Here in San Diego, you can find a market somewhere close to you just about every day of the week.
Not only can you get beautiful produce, lunch and entertainment; but the farmer's market can also be a great place to pick up a gift for a friend from one of the vendors who have unique handmade art that you won't find in stores.
Here are a 10 of my tips for shopping at the Farmer's Market:
1. Arrive early for the best selection, or show up late for the best deals
Arriving when the market opens means you can beat the crowds and get the best produce selection. Since the farm vendors don't want to go back with anything perishable, they will often offer discounts towards the end of the market, so you can get some great deals when you show up during the last half-hour.
2. Walk through the entire market before making a purchase
I never like to buy anything (besides maybe a coffee) before walking through the entire market to see what is available. Sample as much as you can and note quality and prices as you go so you know what to come back to.
3. Find out what's at the peak of its season
The farmers will love to share what's at the peak of its season and dish ideas that you can make with it. You can also get check out seasonal restaurant menus for dish ideas that use the local produce available.
4. Buy for that day
Buying directly from the farmer means they will be bringing produce that is ready to eat when you take it home; rather than buying at a grocery store where the farmer had to send off unripe produce so it doesn't bruise during transportation and will last longer on the shelf.
5. If you like a vendor and their products; find out where else they sell
There are some amazing products like bread, jams, dips and sauces available at the farmer's market. These products might also be available in other stores that you shop at, in case you can't make it to the farmer's market that week.
6. Add your local farmer's markets to your calendar
Keeping your favorite farmer's markets on the calendar is a great reminder to get out and support the community with produce you can enjoy all week.
7. Go with a budget
It's easy to get carried away when you are surrounded by all that beautiful food. Stick to your budget so you don't buy too much that might get wasted.
8. Bring bags
Bring both a larger carrying bag and smaller bags for individual products that you might want to keep separate.
9. Bring your appetite
Arrive hungry and leave happy. There are usually produce samples from the farmers and great vendors to get lunch or a snack that you can enjoy while listening to some live music. With plenty of diverse and ethnic choices, you can get a variety or everyone can get what they are in the mood for.
10. Pick up some flowers for yourself and someone else too
It sure is nice having fresh flowers in your house. There is usually a huge variety and discounts if you buy more than one bouquet. Why not pick up an extra for a friend? It will make their day too.
Those are my 10 tips for shopping at the farmer's market. I hope they help you have an even better experience on your next visit. I'd love to hear what your favorite tips are in the comments.