Farmer's Market Tips

10:30 AM

market

 As most of you know, I have become a bit of a farmer's market addict this summer. Growing our own veggies and herbs was the gateway drug to more fresh produce. Farmer's markets are so much more than fruits and vegetables, depending on your area, so I am going to get up on my soapbox here to tell you why you should check them out.

Variety! Okay, so it might be easier to just run to the grocery store. You can buy your cereal, your produce, your rice and whatnot, all in one place. Farmer's wont carry everything that you will find in your grocery store, not by a long shot. However, instead of being limited to one brand of carrots, or potatoes, or cilantro, there are usually several vendors carrying what is in season. The quality of the produce will vary, and the prices will vary, so you have lots of options. AND, a lot of vendors will even offer you samples.

Local stuff! Most of the goods will be from local farmers, which means it travels a lot less distance than some of the stuff you will find at the grocery store and therefore tends to be fresher. I also tend to find a lot more options with organic produce shopping this way.

Surprise goods! I mentioned that the market can carry more than produce alone, try flowers, soaps, oils, and baked goods. It will obviously vary by location, but this past summer at the Royal Oak farmer's market one vendor sold homemade fruit popsicles. Another sold mini-pies, fruit and spinach. Then there was a whole stand setup with homemade soaps and oils, and it is nearly impossible for me to resist getting a small bunch of flowers whenever I go. At Eastern Market in Detroit, there are vendors who sell tea and coffee, cheeses, jams, salsas, granola, grains, the list goes on. I have even come across vendors who sold homemade dog and cat treats. Also when the seasons change, the goods change, so there is almost always something new to check out. 

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Okay, now for some tips: 

Bring your own bag(s): Most vendors will carry plastic shopping bags, and will give them to you when you purchase goods. However, plastic bags break easily. You really want to bring a thicker bag, and then you can just throw everything together. Less trash to take home, less bags to carry, and it is better for the environment and all that jazz. 

Keep money close: I would recommend carrying a hands-free purse or a wallet so you don't have to go digging around whenever you want to make a purchase. Also, bring cash! Some vendors will take plastic, but you really want to bring cash. Also try to bring bills that are $20's and smaller, vendors are not banks, and therefore making change can get a little tricky at times. 

Go early: Going when the market opens will mean that you get a chance to pick through the goods first. You can have your pick at the best produce, freshest flowers, and buy a blueberry pie before they all sell out. 

Go late: Okay so there is no way my ass will get up early on a weekend, so I tend to go during the mid-late time of day. Going at this time means that there is less variety, but this is the time when the vendors are more willing to make deals because they don't want to load up all of their crap back in to their trucks. I am horrible at negotiating, but most of the time they will just offer you a deal if you are already buying something. 

Samples: Like I said, most vendors will have samples ready. They will hold up a tray and give you that look like "you know you want to try this" (which is how Kyle and I ended up with a giant bag of baked, caramel cherry popcorn. It was amazeballs), or you can just ask. 

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So how do you know where to find a farmer's market? Google! Try looking at your community patch online, check any local papers, or just google it. You can even try taking a walk around your community, we found out that Oak Park has a tiny farm stand on Tuesdays by the library. That is another thing to keep in mind, some markets may even be open during the week so if weekends are too busy, you have that option. 

If there are no local markets, food stands, etc in your area (there may only be open during certain seasons, so make sure to check), there are some other options for produce. CSA's are really popular now, so you can check to see if there is one that you can get in on in your area. Some of them you can go out and pick the goods you want, others get dropped off at your house. Another is Door-To-Door Organics, which is pretty popular in Michigan, and available in a few other areas as well. They let you shop online for what you want, including recipes, and it gets dropped off at your house. 

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Anyway, I hope this helps answer some questions about farmer's markets/shopping locally. If anything, you can just pick up one or two things and people watch! Because that is always fun entertainment. 

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6 Musings

  1. Such great tips. Love the idea of farmer's markets. And we do have some great ones here in Omaha. There is one that happens after the weekends..that is inside. And there you can buy local wines too.

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  2. Definitely love this! Farmer's Markets are so much fun and I love what you can guy at them.

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  3. All very good tips! I love going to our Farmers Market too, though thanks to getting a CSA box weekly this year we haven't been going as much, but I still love it!

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  4. Fabulous tip Sara. I go to Farmer's Markets also. I'll be featuring a couple soon. If you don't mind, I would love to link your post to mine. Beautifully written and so true.
    http://www.averysweetblog.com/

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  5. I always wanted to go to the farmer's market and these are some good tips, sara =]

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  6. I love the idea of buying handmade soaps from a farmer's market - such a charming thing! :)

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Talk nerdy to me.