Top 10 Consumer Tips for the Farmers’ Market
Arriving too late means big crowds and picked-over produce. Beat the rush by coming early and getting the best of the season. Morning light (if you happen to be attending a morning market) is also the best for snapping pictures, if you’re into that sort of thing.
2. Remember to BYOB (Bring Your Own Bag!)
Vendors at the Ventura County Certified Farmers’ Markets do provide small plastic or paper bags for your convenience. However, in the spirit of being “green,” remember to bring along reusable bags – the vendors are sure to appreciate your effort! You definitely want to have a larger bag to carry your bounty or you’ll be heading home prematurely.
3. Don’t Be Afraid to Try Something New
One of the advantages of shopping at a farmers’ market is that you get the best of the season from Certified California farmers – a likely difference from your local grocery store purchases. There’s nothing wrong with buying foods you know you like, but try to be adventurous with new produce. You may be pleasantly surprised!
4. Ask Questions
You may not know everything there is to know about seasonal produce, but the farmers who grow it certainly do. Walk up to each vendor with a smile and ask them what their favorites are this week. Most vendors have sample recipes, preparation tips, and serving suggestions for their products – all you need to do is ask!
5. Remember to Bring Cash
At this time, the VCCFMA does not provide on-site ATM machines and most vendors are not equipped to accept credit cards. Although there could be an ATM nearby, depending on the market location, farmers’ market veterans know better than to show up at the market without cash in our wallets. Pick up some cash on your way to avoid the headache.
6. Don’t Forget Your Veggies
Fruit is great but it can also put a dent in your wallet. If you fear farmers’ markets because of the price, redirect your attention to vegetables. Veggies are often cheaper and when picked fresh and in season, they can be almost as sweet as candy.
Our farmers’ markets are some of the best places to find farmers from sustainable farms with eco-friendly practices. Don’t forget to pick up your eggs, meat, and cheese products from our local producers to reduce environmental impact (you’ll find that the quality is far superior as well!)
Due to current California State health regulations, it is illegal to bring dogs to farmers’ markets unless they are service animals. Please remember to find appropriate accommodations for your furry friend before arriving at the market.
9. Remember Your Farmers’ Market Etiquette
Farmers’ markets are not flea markets, and haggling or negotiating a price is generally not part of the etiquette. Sometimes very late in the day, farmers will offer discounts, but it’s generally best practice to respect set prices. Farmers work harder than most of us can imagine, and their asking prices are more than fair.
Samples are commonplace at farmers’ markets and allow you to find the produce that best suits your taste. Shop around a bit before deciding on the best purchases. You know you’ve picked the right stuff if you can barely get it home without eating it all!
Written for EcoSalon for Yahoo! ® Green. Adapted for VCCFMA.