It’s that time of year again – farmer’s markets are back! These give us the unique opportunity to purchase produce from nearby farms within or near your community, which means smaller carbon emissions from transportation, less chemical exposure from preservatives, and the comfort of knowing where your produce is coming from. This is also a great opportunity to connect with your community and learn about the foods grown in your local region. Here are some of our best tips for tackling the farmer’s market with success and getting the most out of your trip.
Don’t forget your reusable bags. If you’re walking, bring a cart!
Bring a friend or go with a group. If you haven’t been before and are feeling the jitters, bring a friend to help shake them off. Company in a new environment can be comforting.
Plan your meals ahead of time. When you show up with a game plan, this makes the farmer’s market less intimidating and gives you the best chance at using all the food you purchase for the week, which will reduce your food waste. Since there is a finite supply at these markets, be aware that they might run out of items (especially if you’re going later in the day). It’s smart to have some back-up options or substitutions in mind.
Know what’s in season. To plan your meals according to what will be available at the market, it’s best to know which ingredients are in-season. You won’t find “out of season” produce at the market, so before you go, look up which produce is in-season within your region. Shopping at a farmer’s market allows us to cook with the seasons, helping to minimize your carbon footprint by reducing the resources needed to ship the produce to your area. As a bonus, you’re getting the freshest produce because it didn’t have to travel far.
Do a lap before you put anything in your basket. This will allow you to see all available options, check out the prices, and become comfortable with the layout and the environment.
Expand your palate and try one new food each time you go. Grow your community network and get to know your farmers by asking their favorite ways to prepare different produce items at the market, especially if it’s something you’ve never cooked before. You could find your new go-to produce item, all while strengthening your community ties.
Understand how farmer’s markets benefit the community and the environment. When you buy locally, you are keeping the consumer loop tight and allowing those farmers to continue growing produce in or near your community. Many smaller farms use regenerative agricultural practices, creating a more sustainable environment by promoting a healthy ecosystem within the soil for more fruitful future harvests. Attending these markets is also an opportunity to connect with others in your area. Feeling a sense of belonging or contribution to your local community while being outside will release those feel-good hormones. Go out there and explore your local farmer’s market this season!
Check out the handout here: 5 Tips for the Farmer’s Market