It’s time to put down the brightly colored grocery store ads and head to your local farmers’ market for a delightful day of shopping in the refreshing outdoors. There you will find a plethora of fresh picked, vine and tree-ripen fruits and vegetables, grown by local farmers. Most is harvested within a day of its arrival at the market, a claim that grocery stores are unable to make. And an increasing amount of the produce is organically grown which means that the farmers don’t use fertilizers or pesticides, a benefit for the health conscious consumer. As you stroll through the aisles, most vendors will offer you sample of their wares. Nothing beats actually tasting that juicy nectarine or trying a pluot for the first time. You may notice that while the taste is unparalleled, the produce may not look picture perfect. Since the produce is vine and tree-ripened, it is available only from the grower and cannot be shipped to the wholesale stores. It is coming directly from the fields. The taste is the true test and you won’t be disappointed.
Happily, the shopping doesn’t stop with the fabulous produce. Most farmers’ markets also offer a variety of other items to make your meal a complete experience. Bring home some vivid colored fresh flowers to brighten up your dinner table. Start out with an appetizer of hummus and pita bread. Sample from the many flavors such as tomato basil, avocado cilantro, or roasted pepper. Or perhaps a selection of nuts including pistachio, peanut, and cashews would whet your appetite. Don’t have a main course yet? Take a look at the fresh pasta available at many of the farmers’ markets. No, you’re still not done with the shopping yet. Dessert still needs to be selected. A selection of pastries including cakes, cookies, and specialty items are often available.
As you plan your trip to the farmers’ market, keep in mind that they are held outdoors. You will have a more comfortable and fruitful visit if you are dressed for the weather and have chosen your comfortable walking shoes. Take a stroll through the entire market before settling down to make your purchases. Different farmers have different prices so comparison shopping is a must. But if you are purchasing produce, please don’t try to bargain for a better price. The farmers have worked hard to bring you their crops fresh from the fields and do not appreciate bartering. Bringing your own bags and perhaps a small hand held cart is a helpful hint to avoid taking trips back and forth to the car. Small bills are helpful as well as it is not always possible to make change for larger bills. Overall, keep in mind that a trip to the farmers’ market is an opportunity to take a break from the everyday hustle and bustle, save money, support our local economy, and learn about your community in your own backyard. For a listing of farmers’ markets and the days of the week that they will be in your area, click the Farmers Markets Link under Quick Links.