Get The Most From Farmers’ Markets

Posted: July 14, 2012

Farmers’ markets are a great place to purchase locally grown produce...

If you are planning to purchase from farmers’ markets this summer, here are a few tips from Colorado State University Extension to help you get the most from your shopping trip.

     * Go early. For the best selection and quality, go when the market first opens. Or, if you prefer to haggle for the best price, shop later in the day when vendors will be more likely to negotiate. 

     * Take your own bag. Farmers’ markets usually don't provide shopping carts, so bring your own tote bag or basket to carry your purchases. 

     * Browse before buying. Do an initial walk through of the market to see what is available. Take time to sample and compare the offerings of different vendors, and ask when foods were picked. 

     * Take time to chat. Farmers often can provide information regarding the differences among varieties of a certain fruit or vegetable, how to select produce, and how to prepare and/or preserve produce. 

     * Try not to over-buy. Rather than purchasing more food than you likely can consume, plan to visit your farmers’ market more often so that you can purchase and eat food while it is the freshest. 

     * Try something new. Delicious new fruits and vegetables not available at corporate supermarkets often can be found at farmers’ markets. Try to buy one new item each time you go. 

     * Make it a family affair. Take your kids when you go. Farmers’ markets offer a great way to learn how food is grown and what it looks like in an unprocessed state. Let your child pick one or two fruits or vegetables they would like to try. 

     * Plan to go straight home from the farmers’ market. Leaving fresh produce in a hot car can wilt it. If you can't head directly home, bring a cooler to help preserve the more delicate items. 

     * Wash your hands and produce before you eat them. Most produce sold at farmers’ markets has not been pre-washed. If you plan to eat that peach or plum you just bought before getting home, be sure to find a place to wash it first.

Karen Thomas is a family and consumer sciences educator for Penn State Extension of Lackawanna County.