How to Make the Most of a Farmer’s Market

With summer well on its way, farmer’s markets in towns and cities are starting to open up. Markets vary by location, and can be anything from a few folding tables lined with produce to a gigantic building that stocks everything under the sun. All that matters is that the food is fresh, and the location is convenient.

Getting your food at a farmer’s market ensures that it’s fresh, local, and seasonal – three things that will improve anyone’s diet. Since farmer’s markets vary widely depending on what’s in season, it’s important to go in with a plan. Here are a few tips on how to make the most of your local farmer’s market.

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    Pick the right time

    One of the most important things to know when going to a farmer’s market is when to arrive. Most people believe that you should arrive immediately as it opens. That way, you’re guaranteed the freshest produce, and you’ll have the first choice of products before they get picked over.

    The opposing school of thought says that the ideal time to head to a farmer’s market is right before closing. You may not get first choice of fruits and veggies, but everything that’s there will be priced cheaply as vendors are closing up and trying to sell off their stock. Most shoppers don’t like going super early, or too late, so just figure out what your local market’s peak time is, and avoid it like the plague.

    Gustavo Frazao / Shutterstock

    Get to know vendors

    Unlike grocery stores, which are staffed by people who have no connection to the products, farmer’s markets are full of people selling their own wares. This is why a personal connection is key to getting the best deals. Typically, vendors give discounts to people who purchase from them often, or save the nicest products for their best customers.

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    Make sure you’re in the know by being friendly with vendors. Ask them for their recommendations (remember, they’ve probably been using their products the longest), and ensure that you’re upbeat and charming even if it’s early in the morning.

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    Bring lots of small bills

    There is no faster way to make friends with farmer’s market vendors then to bring a large assortment of change and small bills with you as you shop. Vendors are often dealing with multiple customers at once, and it’s really helpful if you are able to give them exact change.

    It also ensures that you’re able to navigate the market faster, without having to wait for every vendor to give you change. Whatever you do, don’t bring anything larger than a $20 bill – it’s a pain to make change for.

    Yulia Grigoryeva / Shutterstock

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