Eight Tips for Shopping the Farmers Market
July 9, 2015
by Melissa Joy Dobbins, MS, RDN, CDE
It's summer, and there's no better way to up your consumption of fruits and vegetables than by visiting your local farmers market. Here are eight tips for adding some fun to the shopping adventure, including ways to involve your kids in the process.
1. Go Early
I like to go early and scope everything out. By walking through the market, I can see what produce is there, what's in season, and do some comparison shopping on the different prices. By going early, the selection is the best and freshest.
2. Bring Your Own Bags
Bring reusable grocery bags just like you would at the grocery store. Make sure the bags are durable. If you plan to purchase in quantity for canning and freezing, you might want to consider bringing boxes or pails.
3. Bring Small Bills
I recommend bringing plenty of small bills, so that it's easier for the farmers to make change. They'll thank you for that!
4. Talk to the Farmers
One of the best things about going to the farmers market is getting to know your local farmer. I encourage you to talk with them. Ask them about their farm and the foods that they grow. Listen to their stories.
5. Buy What's in Season
It's always great to buy fresh produce when it's in season. But how do you know what's in season? Well, that's going to vary, depending on where you live. However, when you go to the farmers market, what you see is typically what's in season. Some of my favorites are asparagus in the spring, berries and sweet corn in the summer, and apples and pumpkin in the fall.
6. Plan Ahead
It's really helpful to spend a little bit of time planning before going to the farmers market. You want to see what you have on hand at home, what you need, and also think about what you want to prepare for the coming week. Planning helps guide what to buy and how much.
Buying in bulk can save you money, but when it comes to fresh produce, it's a bit of a challenge – if you buy too much, it can go to waste. One thing I like to do is to share some of my extra produce with friends or family. Also, home canning and freezing are becoming more popular again, so I encourage you to give that a try. It's a great way to take your extra produce and preserve it for later use.
7. Involve Your Kids
A fun way to get your kids involved in the farmers market experience is to have them try to eat a rainbow of fruits and vegetables. Last summer, I encouraged my son to find a fruit and vegetable from every different color in the rainbow. It was a bit of a challenge, but it was a lot of fun. Now my son loves all kinds of different colored bell peppers!
8. Be Adventurous
Planning is important, and nutrition is very important, but food is fun, so be adventurous! If you see something new or something on sale that you haven't tried before, I encourage you to give it a try.
Melissa Joy Dobbins, MS, RDN, CDE, is an award-winning, nationally recognized food and nutrition expert, media spokesperson, speaker, blogger and podcaster with more than 20 years experience. She has a proven track record of providing real solutions for real people, so they can enjoy their food with health in mind. Melissa is a regular contributor to www.BestFoodFacts.org.