Whether you want to eat locally, are looking for fresh and in-season produce, or are just looking for something different to do over the weekend, you should make a visit to your local Farmer’s Market!
We recently went to GrowNYC’s Greenmarket in Union Square, New York and have put together 6 simple tips for you to get the most out of your experience at your local market.
1. Bring Your Own Bag/Cooler
Not only will your re-useable canvas bag or vintage fruit basket fit right in with the hipster-hippie-chic crowd that routinely attend the Farmer’s Market, but by deciding not to use plastic bags, you’re also helping to reduce toxic waste and thus, helping the environment (Go you!). Also, if you’re an enthusiastic market goer with a car, we recommend packing a cooler. You’ll be thankful you did after taste testing and buying that exotic array of fancy meats and cheeses!
2. Bring Small Bills
While some Farmer’s Markets do have the option to pay by credit card, we still suggest that you bring a stash of smaller bills, particularly $5/$1s. Most growers will operate out of a small cash tin and you will only speed up your shopping by having these smaller bills available.
3. Get In Early
Just like how you set your alarm to make the sales on Black Friday, timing is key at the Farmer’s Markets. Set your alarm nice and early to get your hands on the freshest produce (and taste testers!). You’re also likely to avoid the crowds and bruised leftovers by getting there early.
4. Buy In Bulk
Do your research and find out what produce is in season at the time you’re going to your local market. You will often find the best deals when buying these products in bulk. If you’re wondering what you’re going to do with 4 packets of organic strawberries and 3 bunches of fresh kale, freeze them! They are perfect ingredients for your breakfast smoothie the following week. Another option is to dry them for future use.
5. Ask Questions
One big advantage of shopping at your local Farmer’s Market over shopping at Whole Foods or Trader Joes is being able to ask the growers questions about your food. Did you know that many of the crops at your local market were harvested less than 24 hours before market? …. Cool huh! Take this opportunity to ask the farmers about local agriculture, the conditions of how your food is grown, the art and science behind it and some ways to cook with it. You will be pleasantly surprised at how extremely passionate your famers are about educating you on their products.
6. Try Something New
Take this opportunity to step out of your comfort zone and try something that will surprise your palette! One of my favorite new discoveries last weekend was Brooklyn Greenmarket Wheat Beer, which is brewed from 70% New York State grown wheat and barley. By drinking this beer, you’re helping to reinvigorate the state’s grain industry and benefit GrowNYC’s mission to support family farms, farmer’s markets, gardens, recycling and education.
Now that you’re all prepared to take on your local Farmer’s Market, we’ve listed a handful of some of our favorite national markets below:
Union Square Green Market (grownyc.org/unionsquaregreenmarket) – New York
Park Slope Farmer’s Market (communitymarkets.biz) – New York
Crescent City Farmer’s Markets (http://www.crescentcityfarmersmarket.org) – New Orleans
Green City Market (http://www.greencitymarket.org) – Chicago
Dane County Farmer’s Market (http://dcfm.org) – Wisconsin
Sante Fey Farmer’s Markets (http://www.santafefarmersmarket.com) – New Mexico
Des Moines Farmers Markets (http://desmoinesfarmersmarket.com) – Iowa
Minneapolis Farmer’s Markets (http://www.mplsfarmersmarket.com/FreshNews/) – Minnesota
Portland Farmer’s Market (http://www.portlandfarmersmarket.org) – Oregon