I had an editor once who threatened to fire us if we ever used this phrase. So I now I use it every chance I get. Nonetheless, my petty grievances aside, I’ve been reading A LOT of “farmers markets’ tips” because it’s summertime — almost.
As a true farmers market expert (I’ve been writing about them for more than five years now), I’d like to remind people of the following:
DON’T count on the late-day “bargains.” This myth persists and I’m here to tell you: These farmers work very hard and rarely offer bargains. They are selling their food at the lowest price point they can to cover their costs and turn a tiny profit. Respect that. Most farmers will go door to door at area restaurants to sell leftover produce before they will cut their prices.
REMEMBER: Early is best at farmers markets. It’s when the best, most hard-to-find stuff is available.
REMEMBER this is real produce, the way it actually grows, which often isn’t perfect and Instagram-ready. Believe it or not, mankind has survived on funny-looking carrots and potatoes with bad spots for centuries. This isn’t the produce aisle at your local grocer, with perfect waxed fruits and veggies.
WHILE it is rare to see the actual farmer these days manning his/her booth (many have crews that go to over a dozen markets a week), the salespeople still can offer help and suggestions about cooking, but only ask if there isn’t a crowd so the people behind you can buy their food.
USE common courtesy in booths. Don’t block access to an entire array of food with your stroller, bags and family. Allow others to make their choices and make room for them. Be aware of the world around you. Someone else may be eyeing those peas you are assessing one by one as you purchase 3 pounds. Don’t force your money on the salespeople if there is a crowd of others who have been patiently waiting until they can hand their money over. It also helps to list what you’ve bought to the vendor, so they can figure the price.
FEEL free to ask about organic certification and go with your degree of comfort. A lot of vendors forgo organic certification because it’s expensive and difficult. Others are farming in accordance with normal (pesticides, etc.) practices. Ask. But don’t take the time to lecture if you don’t get the answer you want. Would you like someone coming in to tell you how to do your job?
BRING your own bags. Do I even have to say this in 2015? Remember to wash them out every few weeks. They will get dirty.