7 Steps to Make the Most of the Farmers Market

Screen Shot 2015-07-14 at 3.07.25 PM

From hot summer days through those cool early fall weeks, the NorthWest Crossing Farmers Market is in full swing. Farmers markets are the perfect opportunity to go on a local adventure to find better tasting food, unique products, meet your farmers, and support local businesses, and build community with neighbors and friends. The hustle and bustle of a farmers market can be a bit overwhelming at times, so we thought we’d take the time to share with you our tips for getting the most from your market.

1. Do your research 

Before you head to the farmers market, do some research on what’s in season. Buying in season is not only tastier, it’s cheaper too. You aren’t going to have much luck finding ripe avocados in July or plump strawberries in September, so investigate a little! One of the best parts of shopping at your local market is learning to appreciate fresh, local foods at the height of their natural season.

Use this interactive map to see what’s fresh in your area: 

http://www.epicurious.com/archive/seasonalcooking/farmtotable/seasonalingredientmap

2. Time your visit well

Go early, but not too early. Or go late, but not too late. Everyone knows that the best stuff goes FAST. So if you’re looking to get the best pick of the market’s high-demand, seasonal fruits and vegetables, arrive at the beginning of the market. However, sometimes the vendors may discount their produce toward the end of the day, so if you’re on a tighter budget, this may be the best option for you!

3. BYOB (Bring Your Own Bags) 

Most vendors do not supply customers with bags, so come prepared! By bringing your own bags, you are helping to reduce waste. Bring a large basket or bag with handles to carry around your produce, and stick in a few small plastic bags for smaller, more delicate products. Not only is this convenient and environmentally friendly, it makes for a great photo-op! Who doesn’t love the look of a Sara Bella Upcycled tote or NWX Farmers market bag filled with green lettuce, bright berries, and purple zucchini?

4. Bring a cooler 

At the NWX Farmers Market we don’t only sell fruits and veggies, we also some days offer meats, fish, milk, cheese, yogurt, and other foods that require refrigeration. Bringing a cooler will enable you to enjoy the rest of the farmers market after you finish shopping. Just load up the cooler, stick it in your car, and return to the market festivities! After an afternoon full of music, activities, and snacking, you get to return to fresh and cool foods.

5. Talk to the farmers 

If anyone knows what they’re talking about, it’s the vendors. Ask questions and get your answers straight from the experts. Do you spray? What are your cows eating?  How much time do they spend on grass? Do you grow what you sell? Is your farm USDA certified organic? Why or why not?

Don’t get shy about asking for specifics. The farmers are proud of their crop and want you to know how they grew it. They might even have some tips on how to prepare it if you ask!

6. Bring small bills

Many vendors are cash only, so be sure to check your wallet for cash before heading to the market. This will make things faster, simpler, and easier on the vendors.

7. Be adventurous!

Never heard of a vegetable? Try it! It is good to have a plan when coming to the farmers market, but don’t be afraid to be spontaneous too. Buy some sunflowers, pick up some squash blossoms, grab an extra carton of raspberries, and sample the honey gelato. Trying new things is part of the fun of going to farmers markets.

We look forward to seeing you at the NorthWest Crossing Farmers Market each Saturday from 10am-2pm through September 19th! Be sure to snap some photos and tag us on Instagram with the hashtag #NWXfarmersmarket and follow us on our brand new Pinterest for more tips and recipes!