Getting the Most from your Farmers’ Market

  • Difficulty Rating: Beginner
Getting the Most from your Farmers’ Market

As a guy who loves to grow his own food, I still don’t have all the room or time I need to enjoy everything summer’s bounty has to offer.

Or, what if you don’t even have a backyard, or one that’s sunny enough to grow your own fresh produce? Thank goodness for farmers’ markets! Besides growing it yourself, having access to area farmers is the only other realistic way to have fresh seasonal, and local produce. And it’s a good feeling to know that whenever you shop at your farmers market, that money is going back into your local community, to support the very farmers who make it possible for you to enjoy that fresh from the garden goodness. Plus the taste, you can’t get any better!

When you go to the farmers’ market, there are usually many vendors offering far more than just fresh produce. That’s part of what makes these markets so great; it’s all about fresh and local, from homemade cheese to free range, grass fed organic beef and chicken, and of course plenty of fresh eggs! And there’s a good chance you’ll see vegetables there you don’t even recognize. Perhaps you’re uncertain about the best way to prepare them, or maintain their freshness once you get them home. For example, what about fresh carrots--do you keep the greens on or not? Well, simply ask the farmer. They know. As for carrots, the answer is no, remove the greens so all the sugar isn’t pulled out of the carrot. Pop them into a plastic bag and place them refrigerator. They’ll stay fresh for weeks.

What about asparagus? Why do they stand them upright in a little bit of water? To maintain the freshness of course. There’s no cracking or drying and that way it’s absolutely fresh and delicious every time. Similarly, you can judge broccoli and cauliflower the same way. Check the base where it’s been cut from the plant. If there’s no cracking, it’s super fresh to a level you’ll rarely find at the grocery store. And if you’re unsure on how to store anything you see, just ask the farmers. They’re happy to tell you how to store it for maximizing freshness.

What about something you don’t recognize or know how to cook. Ask the farmer! They grow it and they know how to prepare it. Many have been experimenting with recipes and ideas from their customers for years. These guys are a wealth of information on the produce you’re buying and they’re right there for the asking.

One of the best things about a farmers’ market that’s unlike the grocery store; if you’re walking into the grocery store, the guy on isle two doesn’t typically know how to pick out fresh produce, and they’re not likely to have free samples around for you to taste before you buy. Farmers markets are known for dishing out samples along with great advice. The farmers that come to these markets are proud of what they grew and happy to let you enjoy a sample first. Just be sure to bring plenty of reusable shopping bags. You’ll need them after you experience all that your local farmers’ market has to offer.