Farmers Markets: When to buy what

This is where you can really get some great insight into what it takes to make good, real food. You can also get a bit confused with all that’s going on. When I went to my first farmers market is was totally overwhelmed. I had no idea what to do. I think I grabbed a few carrots and ran back to my car. It wasn’t until a few seasons later I realized I could actually talk to the people handing me the carrots. I could ask them questions and they would gladly answer them. In fact most farmers relish the chance to talk about their work. And why not?! It’s a pretty sweet gig.

Farmers Market List

Let’s talk about those of so lovely farmers markets. If you want them, then you need to make sure you shop at them. Start once the season starts and make a commitment to go every week. Even if it’s just to buy one or two things. It will make a difference. But what do you buy? When do you buy? How much do you buy? Lots of questions.

1.Buy what’s in season. If you are in the North East use the printout in this article for inspiration. Apples might look good but if they have been sitting in a freezer for a few months, well maybe pass for strawberries. Buy the whole veggie. Often root vegetables are sold with their stems and leafs in tack. Most of these can be used right along with their rooty counter parts. Trust me, check pinterest and you will see tons of ideas!

2. Just go! There’s some thought to when to buy at a market. Some people say go early, get in, get it done. Some say wait till then end a see if you can get a deal. I say just go! If there is something you need and you know they might run out, say eggs, go early and get them. If you are looking for something that you know they will have in stock, spinach, wait till the end and see if maybe the farmer would be willing to deal for a lower price. But remember, this is how they make a living, so be respectful with your requests and realistic with your offers. The best idea regardless of when you go, is to take a minute or two and walk all the way through the market once. You will see everything that there is to buy and be able to make a more informed chose as to where to send your hard-earned dollars.

3. Buy what you need and then what you want. Lists people! Write down what you must get. Meal plan your week and create a shopping list of exactly what you need. This will save you! Save you time. Save you money. Save you the moment of deciding if you should head back in after getting two wild maniacs back in the car to get the god damn beets. Write a list and follow it. Then once you have everything you need maybe look at what you want. Farmers market get pricy when you go off on your own and start buying those designer jams with the fancy lids and labels. Plus when you buy pre made foods you sort of miss the point of buying all those yummy whole foods. By the way notice the tie in with the free printout down below?

4. Learn what is ready to buy and who’s selling it to you. Take the time to learn what a ripe tomato feels like and how to patiently pick the perfect pepper. When you buy food that is ready to eat you are getting the most bang for your buck. The nutrient density is at its highest and your body will thank you!! Take the time to talk to the farmers. Ask them questions. Almost every farmer I’ve ever talked to is more than ready to tell you how they got into farming and how much care they take in their produce or meats. Here are some questions I have found helpful when buying at farmers markets:

  • Do you spray you vegetables? If so when and with what?
  • How do you manage pests and disease?
  • What do your animals eat?
  • Where do your animals live?
  • Are your animals grass finished? If not when do they start eating grain?

There are a lot of other questions you can ask. But start with these and you’ll be able to quickly see if those strip steaks are worth the money.

So hopefully you have found a few nuggets of info you can use to help you in the upcoming farmers market season. Remember we vote with our dollars. Buy local, buy fresh, Bye Bye!


Click to download your Farmer Market Shopping List for the North East here:
Farmers Market Shopping List



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