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Tips for Shopping at the Farmers MarketTips for Shopping at the Farmers Market


Tips for Shopping at the Farmers Market

The farmers market is one of the best resources for healthy foods, but a visit can be overwhelming if you are new to the scene. Here are a few tips to help you find great food and get the best deals.

Time your visit wisely.

The best time to attend the farmers market depends on how you want to experience it. If you arrive at the opening, you will have the best selection and more time to talk with the vendors. If you like an upbeat atmosphere and don’t mind mingling with the crowds, aim for mid-morning or a few hours after the market opens. If you are looking for good deals, head to the market just before it closes. The selection may be limited, but many vendors discount items to clear out their booths.

Take a full lap.

Take a walk around the whole market before you commit to a purchase. This allows you to research prices and keeps you from settling on an item that isn’t exactly what you want. Once you see what the full market offers, you can select the best quality for the best price.

Speak up.

Don’t be afraid to ask questions. The vendors are hoping to establish a relationship with you so you will become a repeat customer. If you have questions about how a food was grown, how long it can be stored, or the best way to cook it, don't be afraid to ask.

Look for bulk deals.

Often, the more you buy, the better price you will get. Many vendors offer a set price and then discount the price if you buy 2 or 3 of the same item. If you don’t see these prices posted, ask if bulk discounts are available.

Know your cooking habits.

It’s easy to get overly excited at the market, which often results in buying more food than you can eat. Consider how you will store and use the items you buy. Also, look for options that decrease your time in the kitchen. For example, some vendors sell pre-chopped kale and bags of mixed greens that are perfect for salads and save time preparing meals.

Be open to new foods.

Take a sense of adventure and curiosity with you to the market. Ask vendors about foods you don't know, and consider buying at least one new thing each week. Tasting new fruits and vegetables broadens your knowledge of healthy foods and will keep your eating plan fresh.

Carry small bills.

Unless you buy all your produce from one vendor, you will spend a few dollars here and a few dollars there at the market. Make it easy on yourself and sellers by carrying small bills.

Bring the right bags.

After a few purchases at the market, your hands will be full. Choose bags that will allow you to easily carry produce while you shop. Consider a backpack for heavier items like root vegetables. Place other vegetables in bags that can be carried on your shoulders. Bring flat-bottomed, sturdy bags for delicate foods like eggs and berries. If the weight of your purchases is a concern, consider a small rolling cart to make your shopping experience more pleasant.

Lori Rice, M.S., is a nutritional scientist and author with a passion for healthy cooking, exercise physiology, and food photography.
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