8 Tips for Shopping at Farmers Markets by Caron Golden

A trip to your local farmers market can give you a chance to enjoy the outdoors, meet other locals, try new foods, and just have fun!

8 Tips for Shopping at Farmers Markets Visiting the farmers market is a different experience than going to a standard supermarket. Here are eight tips to help you become more comfortable in that environment and make the most of your access to farmers and artisans and their fresh products and knowledge!
  1. Bring sturdy bags or baskets to carry your purchases, including produce bags. Some farmers may have them, but it’s always good to come prepared. If you are planning to purchase a lot, bring a wheeled cart.
  2. Bring cash in small denominations. More vendors are beginning to accept cards, but cash is easier and speeds up transactions. It can also make it easier for you to stay within budget.
  3. Take an initial pass through the market to identify what’s available, what you’ll need to plan your meals, what’s in season, and what looks good.
  4. If possible, get to know your farmers and ask questions. Because they know their product, they can identify produce at its peak, give you cooking ideas, and provide samples.
  5. Ask the vendor about their process before handling their wares. Some vendors want customers to bag their items and bring them to where they collect payment while others prefer to gather what customers want. You can also ask the vendors if they offer samples if you want to try something before purchasing, but keep in mind not all vendors provide that option.
  6. Talk to fellow shoppers, too. Share tips for how to use an ingredient or to learn which vendor has the best selection and/or prices.
  7. Go early to get the best selection. Alternatively, go late (but not at closing time when everyone’s packing up) to potentially get deals from farmers who may not want to pack up what’s left from the day. Those slightly limp bunches of kale or broccoli left at the end of the market will be just as good once cooked. Other picked-over fruits and vegetables can be preserved or used in smoothies (like a summer fruit smoothie), stews and soups, or yogurt parfaits.
  8. Be open to “ugly produce,” which may appear with some minor blemishes and bruising, and non-standard egg sizes. Not all eggs and produce have to look uniform to taste delicious—and sometimes they are discounted or on sale. Despite their appearance, they will still be just as tasty!
Most of all, have an open mind. The Diabetes Plate Method suggests half of your meals should include non-starchy veggies. A farmers market is a great opportunity to try new types of produce and prepare meals with fresh produce in season.  
Be mindful of what fruits and veggies are in season to enjoy the freshest versions of your favorites. You may find that what you buy at the farmers market inspires you to create new, flavorful, and healthy dishes. Don’t forget to sign up for the Diabetes Food Hub® e-newsletter for diabetes-friendly ideas and recipes using your fresh new produce!  

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