When I head to the grocery store, I know exactly what I am getting and how much. I march in with a purpose and cruise in and out of aisles grabbing a weeks worth of something while clipping digital coupons along the way.
Its a chore. A have-to-do.
When I set out for the farmer’s market, my only plans are to grab a nutella Kouign-amann at the pastry stall and meander my way through the rows looking at everything there is to offer.
On my second lap I pick up 15# of peaches from one farm, 32# of discounted tomatoes to put up from another, and some seedlings for my fall garden. Next week it might be peppers, corn, and garlic.
Its a pleasure. A get-to-do.
Over the years, I have learned some tricks of the trade that have made shopping at markets easier for me. The first is to park nearest the knife sharpener. This makes it easy to drop them off on the way in, and pick them up on the way out!
TALK TO YOUR FARMERS
Farmers are passionate about the things they grow and will happily answer any questions you might have. Certain varieties of vegetables are better suited for specific product than others for example: paste tomatoes vs beef steaks for tomato sauce).
In order to compete in a society with increasingly high standards, farmers might keep “imperfect” produce behind the counter to sell later or to people who are making sauces, jams, or otherwise preserving where cosmetics don’t matter as much. This is called “Seconds” and often has a lower price point. Depending on the level of imperfectness, these can be invaluable in stocking a working kitchen!
BRING YOUR OWN BAGS
While most farmers will be able to package your selections in plastic produce bags for weighing but they may not provide a decent bag with handles for carrying through the market.
Bring your favorite reusable bag with sturdy handles to support all your market purchases – bonus points for an insulated one for fresh dairy, meats and eggs!
PAY IN CASH
While running your card is undoubtedly more convenient it also comes with fees for the vendor. Cash does not. Not to mention the markets I attend have about a 50/50 chance of taking a card.
Cash is king.
For the best selection, go early.
This one seems self explanatory. If you are looking for the newest, coolest ingredient, be the first in line. There is nothing like being one of the first to go through the market. The produce and product piled high in the crisp morning air!
We love to grab a nutella Kouign Aman and walk the stalls to see what looks best before we make our purchases
For the best deals, go late.
Farmers want to sell all of the produce they bring to market, obviously. Which means at the end of market if they find they have a surplus of something leftover, they are more likely to give you a deal to clear out their inventory.
Shopping markets in this way usually means you have to be a little more flexible in what your purchasing. It is much harder to follow a meal plan when your relying on leftovers.
I find that this works well for preservation needs as you can process a lot of produce in one go. Week one was cucumbers, week two might be tomatoes, etc.
Ready to Hit the Market?
We love to see and hear about your adventures on your property, big or small! Please leave a comment or tag me on Instagram with @TheFryFarmette and #TheFryFarmette so we can cheer you on!