TAKE 5

5 tips to help you make the most of your visit tothe farmers market

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1. Visit Early for Selection, Late for Price
If there are seasonal items you want, such as berries or heirloom tomatoes, get to the market early before they sell out. If you’re on a budget, head to the market in the last hour or so. Many farmers will discount their items, so they don’t have pack them up.

2. Do a Lap
When you arrive at the farmers market, avoid the temptation to buy the first beautiful pint of strawberries you lay eyes on; you may be able to get a better price two stalls down. Do a quick lap around the entire market without buying anything to compare prices. Then, on your second pass, start shopping.

3. Know What’s in Season
If you’re going to shop at the farmers market, then you’ll need to plan your meals around the fruits and vegetables that are in season — you won’t be able to get asparagus in March, for example.

The benefit, however, is that by eating seasonal produce, you’ll get fruits and vegetables at the peak of ripeness (and deliciousness). Don’t worry if you’re not familiar with what’s in season; most farmers markets can provide you with a chart of what you can expect to be available each month.

If you know a bit of what to expect when you get to the farmers market, making decisions at each stall is much easier. Learn what grows in your area when and talk to the growers about what will be coming to market in upcoming weeks.

4. Get to Know the Vendors
Nobody knows their product better than the farmers that produce them, and farmers markets give you the opportunity to hear what's what straight from the horse's mouth. Make regular visits, and you may even find yourself getting better bargains or being offered special products for your loyalty.

The farmer-customer relationship benefits you both. When you demand high-quality products, farmers may change their practices to bring that product to the market. It shows the farmer that people are willing to pay a little more for quality.

5. Bring Big Bags & Small Change
Bringing a sturdy, reusable shopping bag to the farmers market not only makes sense for the environment, it's also nicer to the farmers and easier on your hands. Their sturdy handles are way more comfortable than cheap plastic loops.
Although vendors will make change, purchases will go easier and faster if you have exact (or close to exact) change.

Good luck at your local farmer's market! I hope you grab your reusable grocery bag, take in the beauty of the richly-colorful produce, grab some samples of homemade chocolate, and strike up a conversation with a farmer! ■

source: www.dailymom.com

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