This summer, take a trip to your local Farmers Market. Connecting the community with their local farmers, purchasing directly from growers at these markets allows local agriculture to remain viable and preserves precious farmland. Enjoy peak flavor and nutrition from local produce, dairy and other provisions available at Farmers Markets near you by following these tips.
- Know where to go. Markets are becoming popular across the country and range in size, offerings, and hours of operation, For a list of markets in your area and to find out what your local farmers are harvesting right now visit https://www.localharvest.org/.
- Talk to your farmer. From growing techniques, to storage requirements and preparation ideas the farmers offer a wealth of information. Not sure how to use a certain vegetable in your own kitchen? Curious about the use of pesticides or if their produce is certified organic? Enjoy the opportunity to connect with your local farmers who can provide invaluable information on local agriculture as well as recipe ideas!
- Be adventurous. Different varieties of tomatoes interesting cuts of meat, and gooseberries, you never know what you’ll find at the market. Many farmers offer samples to passerby; the perfect way to try new things. Be mindful that the produce may not look perfect, but understand that it was grown close to home and is packed with flavor and nutrition. Come with an open mind!
- Ensure you’re getting the best price and quality take a stroll through the market first. While it’s not customary to bargain with farmers over the price of their produce, many farmers will offer deals at the end of the day. SNAP and WIC benefits are accepted at many markets, for a list visit https://www.fns.usda.gov/fmnp/wic-farmers-market-nutrition-program.
- Bring cash and reusable bags. transactions are quicker when using cash and most farmers appreciate small bills so they do not have to make change; especially if you are shopping early in the day. Markets may not supply grocery bags so bring your own environmentally friendly, sturdy tote bags to carry your haul home.
- Pay attention to food safety- Check the stand’s overall cleanliness, including gloves and clean utensils for food handling, covered garbage cans, and coolers for perishables. Buy only milk, juice and cider that has been pasteurized to kill harmful bacteria. If purchasing prepared, ready to eat foods, ensure they have been kept under the proper conditions-under 40 degrees for cold food, over 140 degrees for hot foods. Remember to use separate bags for raw meat, eggs, and items such as produce and bread. Once home, properly clean all produce and refrigerate meat, eggs, and dairy immediately.