Are you new to shopping your neighborhood farmers’ market? Are you not sure what is the proper etiquette or protocol to follow? Here’s a rundown of the most important farmers’ market tips you should know for a successful and pleasant shopping excursion.
#1: Know What’s In Season At Your Local Market
Set your expectations before shopping your local market by knowing which items are in-season at the moment. You won’t find fresh strawberries over the winter and the best apples come in fall, but salad greens will in abundance in the spring and sweet corn arrives in the summer.
If a farmers’ market stand is selling off-season produce, they are not a “producer only” market and vendors may be selling produce they purchase from wholesalers.
#2: Go Beyond Fresh Produce
When you think farmers’ market you may immediately think fresh fruits and veggies. But take a stroll through your local market and you’ll see they have much more to offer. You may also be able to shop for locally-sourced meat and poultry, dairy, eggs, bakery items, and jarred goods.
#3: Farmers Market Vendors May Only Accept Cash
Not all stands are equipped to accept credit cards, so be sure you’re carrying cash on you so you don’t have to leave any items behind.
#4: Talk to Your Local Farmers
You can find out a lot of about the products you’re purchasing by talking directly to the stand owner. Ask about where their produce is grown or how their animals are raised, inquire about their growing practices or get their opinion about the best way to prepare and serve their products. As long as you’re not holding up a line of customers, most stand owners are happy to talk about the items they are selling.
#5: Timing is Everything
For an easy shopping experience with smaller crowds and the best selection, we recommend getting to your farmers’ market close to opening. On the other hand, if you’re looking for the best farmers’ market deals, shop closer to closing time. Although haggling or negotiating for a lower price is often frowned upon, stand operators may discount their products towards the end of the day, to avoid hauling them back home.
#6: Don’t Get Too Handsy
Produce sold in your grocery store is picked at a point at which it is still a bit under-ripe to account for travel time and time on the shelf. You may have to hunt to find the best pieces of fruit or vegetable. Meanwhile, produce sold at your local farmers’ market is usually picked at the peak of freshness, so there is less need to inspect for the freshest options.
Too much poking or squeezing can cause bruising. If you can’t tell if the product is fresh through simple handling or by smelling, ask the stand operator to help you identify the best choices.
Visit this blog from Serious Eats for even more farmer’s markets dos and don’ts.
Put these farmers’ market tips to practice by visiting The Markets at Shrewsbury every Thursday, Friday and Saturday.