Making the Most of Your Local Farmers Market
One of my *favorite* parts about the summer months is the abundance of delicious fruits + veggies that come into season. Sure, you can get strawberries year-round, but they’re much better in both taste + nutritional value when they’re in season, + they’re less expensive too! If you want to check out a guide to seasonal produce, check out this one from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
One of the best ways to take advantage of all of summer’s produce offerings is to explore the local farmers market around your town or city. Shopping at a farmers market gives you access to some of the freshest produce offerings, but you’re also contributing to the success of smaller farms + your local economy.
In case you’re new to farmers market shopping, here are a few tips to make the most of your shopping experience:
#1] PLAN AHEAD
Farmers’ markets can be a tad overwhelming. You’re much more likely to run into unfamiliar fruits + veggies, which can be both good + bad. While having a ton of options is awesome, you don’t want to find yourself in a situation where you’re buying faster than you can eat [no one likes to see good produce go to waste].
Try to think ahead about what meals you’re going to cook that week + what produce you’ll need to use. If you shop according to what you need [+ how much of it you’ll use], you’re less likely to find yourself with produce that’s going bad before you can eat it.
#2] BE OPEN-MINDED + TRY SOMETHING NEW
Don’t be afraid of a fruit or vegetable that you haven’t tried before! Farmers markets are a great opportunity to broaden your horizons, especially because you have access to farm employees as you shop. They’re happy to be a resource, so don’t be afraid to approach them with questions! They’ll be able to give you recommendations on how to prepare the item, what it goes well with, + they may even let you sample before you buy!
#3] COME HUNGRY
Most farmers markets offer much more than just produce, + some feature stands [or food trucks] run by local bakeries + restaurants. This is another great opportunity to support local businesses + enjoy a snack or two while you shop!
#4] COME PREPARED
A lot of farmers markets are cash only, so make sure you have money with you so you don’t leave empty-handed. Bring reusable bags — they’ll make your life easier + you’ll be eco-friendly in the process. Also, before you leave, make sure you check the weather + know your local market’s rain policy. Summer storms pop up pretty randomly, so make sure you don’t get caught outdoors unprepared!
Farmers markets are at their peak during the summer months, so if you’re unfamiliar with markets in your area, do some searching around the websites for your local newspapers, broadcast stations, or other community resources. These outlets will typically put together a round-up of what’s in the area this time of the year. Grocery stores will also run farmers markets from time to time, especially Whole Foods if you live near one [check each store’s community bulletin board, there’s usually information there!]. The U.S. Department of Agriculture also maintains a database of farmers’ markets around the country, so get searching + happy shopping!
Let us know your favorite eats from your local farmers market — make sure to tag @CHAARG + #CHAARGeats!
+Ali [ali.inchaarg], virtCHAARG from Philly