I’m a sucker for a good farmers market. Always have been and always will be– I don’t know what it is. The yummy food? Knowing I’m buying local? Waking up early and having the sun shine while I shop outdoors for fruits and veggies (and most recently, a ridiculously good vegan chocolate chip cookie)? Milling around cash-only vendors pretending like I’m in the 1950’s? Now that I think about it, it’s probably a good mix of all of those things. I mean, look at the happiness on this face:
I mean, there’s a girl that’s clearly excited over her food. Excuse the mess that is my mane.
I’ll be the first to admit though, farmers markets can be tricky to navigate and a bit overwhelming. Have you seen all they have to offer? Don’t even get me started on those jumbo ones in California– I went to one on the pier of Huntington Beach last summer and was in sensory overload…everything looked so. dang. good. There were even paintings for sale!! C’mon, it was my happy place.
For those of you that feel threatened by the idea of a farmers market, don’t. Follow my tips for an easy peasy (organic) lemon squeezy shopping trip:
- Bring cash. Sure, many vendors will now take card with the handy dandy invention of a Square Card Reader, but some don’t have the technology yet and the aforementioned card reader has also been known to not always work when you need it to…like when you’re about to buy that really yummy jar of peach butter.
- Shop around. I like to do a once over of the farmers market to make sure I’m not getting jipped out of the best deals. For instance, there are usually three different vegetable stands at the market I usually attend, but I can get 1-pound of apples for $4 at one stand, compared to $8 at the one right across the field! Psh. You know I don’t like that.
- Don’t feel like you have to buy everything. I like to buy pretty much all of my fruits and vegetables from the farmers market, but I also keep in mind deals at my local Trader Joe’s and Sprouts (where I grocery shop for other items). If you’re confused on what fruits and veggies to buy from the farmers market, and what items you should save for the grocery store, follow this handy dandy chart, below. I try to buy the Dirty Dozen at my Farmers Market (where I can make sure they’re not using as many pesticides, GMO’s, etc.) and compare prices at my grocery stores for the Clean 15.
- Remember where your money is going. I know that this isn’t always practical, and being a college student, there are some weeks when I can’t follow this, but try to buy local as much as possible. Sure, you may pay a little more, but when you buy local, you’re contributing towards a family’s vacation budget, a child’s dance lesson, a beloved pet’s vet bill. Also, did you know that in 1950 American’s typically spent 30% of their budget on food compared to 2003 where a poll concluded that we now only spend 13%? It’s because we’re valuing convenience over health. Would you rather spend the money to help yourself stay healthy now or the doctor’s bill later?
- Go with a list, but leave room for ‘fun’ items. If you go with a grocery list, you’re less likely to overspend. But chances are, you’ll taste a delectable sauce or outstanding biscotti that you’ll want to take home. I heard a tip a few months ago that I use when grocery shopping– leave three blank lines on your grocery list for ‘fun’ items. This way, you’re giving yourself leeway, but you’re spending won’t put you in an outstanding deficit.
The best part? You come home with a haul that looks like this (and this only my fruits and veggies!)
Don’t know where you can find a local farmers market? Try LocalHarvest.org, they’ll help you locate one in your area!
What are your stand-by tips for shopping at a farmers market? Do you go to one in your area? How often?