‘Tis the season for summer’s bounty. The time of year I dream about in the depths of Nebraska winters, longing for fresh, colorful fruits and vegetables. A visit to the farmers’ market has become a regular part of our summer weekends. Not only is it a great way to get the freshest of local produce, but a it’s a chance for the kids to learn about seasonal food as well.
I often hear people say they get overwhelmed by the market and have no idea what to do with their purchased produce. So, I thought I’d share a few quick tips for making the farmers’ market an easy, fun experience.
BYOB–bring your own bags. Not only is it good for the environment, it will make carrying all your finds easier by hauling them in one larger bag rather than multiple smaller ones.
Cash–make it small bills, maybe even a couple dollars in quarters too.
Make a list–do you meal plan? Why not shop for your weekly produce at the market? This way you’ll know exactly how to use all the veggies you bring home, letting nothing go to waste.
Arrive early–markets tend to get more crowded as the day goes on. Get there early for first pick and a chance to scope out the vendors before making your purchases.
Shop around–you’ll notice vendors prices may differ on the same vegetables. Do the beets have their greens? Were the leaves of the kohlrabi removed? Those are both useable greens. By purchasing veggies with the greens on you are essentially getting two for the price of one.
Talk to the farmer–not sure what to do with some of the veggies you see at a vendor’s stand? Ask the farmer. They have first hand experience on bringing out the best of what they’ve grown. Some of my favorite recipes have come straight from the growers themselves.
Have fun–take the kids, get a latte, make a morning of it. Being at the farmers’ market is a great way to connect with your community and local food scene. Not to mention you’ll come home with the most beautiful produce. What could be more inspiring than that?
A few helpful links for finding markets near you…
Local Harvest–full of great information on farmers’ markets and Community Supported Agriculture (CSAs) in your area
Local Dirt–can’t make it to your weekly market? Local Dirt lets you place your produce order online with local farmers. All you have to do is make a stop to pick them up.
Edible Communities–magazine that can be found across the country (named after their city, ex: Edible Portland, Edible Omaha etc.) full of information on your local food scenes, including farmers’ markets and food festivals.