How to shop at your local farmers' market

Thanks to our ever-growing interest in seasonal, local produce, farmers’ markets are popping up everywhere. What better time, therefore, to make use of these fabulous establishments and today’s post is about maximising your farmers’ market experience.

Before we go any further, the benefits of shopping at a farmers’ market are multiple. Here are some:

The produce you buy is guaranteed to be in season

Ever wondered why farmers’ markets don’t sell bananas or avocados? This is because what you buy there is what is in season right now, not what has been sitting in cold storage in a warehouse for up to a year.

I have written about the benefits of eating seasonally previously (here). Farmers’ markets make that process so easy by presenting you with only the freshest fruits and vegetables.

You are buying local produce and supporting local farmers

If you are concerned about food miles, shopping at a farmers’ market is a fabulous way to quell those anxieties. Here, you know for sure that the food you are buying has been grown as close to your location as possible. How can you know that? More often than not, the growers/farmers themselves are actually there and are more than happy to answer any questions you may have about farming methods, pesticides (if any), how to prepare the food and anything else on your mind.

It is cheaper

Buying local produce direct from the farmer cuts out the middleman. We don’t have to pay the fee charged by the freight company to deliver the food to our local grocer, and equally we don’t have to pay the mark up charged by the grocer. Here, you are buying direct from the source, which makes it a healthier transaction for all involved.

So – how do you maximise your farmers’ market experience? Follow these simple tips to get the most out of your visit:

Come prepared with a list

Being surrounded by so many delicious delights makes it very tempting to vary off track. Assess your kitchen and fridge prior to leaving to check what you really need, and stick to that at the market.

Bring a set amount of cash

As with the above, it is very easy to get distracted and veer off course, indulging in an expensive bouquet of flowers you don’t really need, or pot of gourmet honey you will never use. It is all about preparation, and if you only have a finite about of money with you, you will be forced to budget accordingly and stick with your list.

Ask questions!

Don’t know what a particular fruit or vegetable is or how to prepare it? Just ask! Farmers love having their brains picked, just make sure they have a moment to stop and chat. Asking questions and discovering new and exciting food is a fabulous way to incorporate previously unknown and healthy foods into your diet.

Keep these things in mind when you next plan a trip to your local farmers’ market. If you have any other tips, please pass them along!