Tips for Shopping at a Farmers Market

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:

me with my farmers market goodies

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.

Huntington Beach Farmers Market

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:

TipsforShoppingataFarmersMarket

  • 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. 

Clean 15 vs Dirty Dozen Chart

  • 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!)

fruits and veggies from a local market in phoenix, az

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?

  • http://lostintravelsblog.blogspot.com/ Chelsea @ Lost in Travels

    yumm! that all looks fantastic! i used to LOVE going to the farmers market on the weekends in chicago. even if i didn’t buy anything but lunch that day,it was so much fun to walk around!

    • http://www.kayliwanders.com/ Kayli Schattner

      Ah, I love Chicago! Grew-up in Wisconsin but was right on the border of Chicago :)

  • http://www.thelemonhive.com/ Hannah Taylor-Johnson

    I LOVE farmers markets. A handy tip for anyone who just cannot afford organic or accidentally purchases non-organic…

    Fill your sink with cold water and at least 1 cup of vinegar. Throw the veggies/fruit in and leave them there for 10 minutes. Rinse with cold water and store.

    It makes them last longer (so it’s also good for organic produce) and it gets rid of a lot of the crap. The vinegar doesn’t stick around on either.

    …I know, I know…organic IS best but for everything else there is vinegar.

    Hannah
    http://www.thelemonhive.com
    P.S. I wouldn’t try the above with an onion!!

    • http://www.kayliwanders.com/ Kayli Schattner

      I love that tip!! My Mom taught me that one :)

  • http://www.welltraveledwife.com/ emi

    best tips! nothing better than a farmers market! xo

    welltraveledwife.com

    • http://www.kayliwanders.com/ Kayli Schattner

      Thanks, Emi! I sure do love ‘em :)

  • http://heleneinbetween.com/ Helene

    these tips are awesome!! it’s been a long time since i’ve been to a farmers market!

    • http://www.kayliwanders.com/ Kayli Schattner

      Thanks, Helene! I have to admit- I haven’t gone in a month or so because I’ve been out of town but I sure do miss them and look forward to going soon :)

  • http://treasuretromp.com/ Nicole @ Treasure Tromp

    this is wonderful, Kayli! I always wonder which fruits / veggies I should buy organic and those I can skip. thanks!

    • http://www.kayliwanders.com/ Kayli Schattner

      Of course, Nicole! Glad you enjoyed :)

  • http://www.postcardsfromrachel.com/ Rachel

    You are adorable! And I love farmers markets. We have one right next to our apartment complex and there’s also a huge market in Boston. Yummy.

    • http://www.kayliwanders.com/ Kayli Schattner

      Thanks, Rachel! Mmm, I would looove to live right next to one!

  • transientexpression

    Great tips, Kayli! You’ve reminded me that I should visit my local farmer’s market more often. It’s really close, so I have no excuse.

    • http://www.kayliwanders.com/ Kayli Schattner

      I’m glad I’ve reinspired you to visit! It’s funny- I live in Arizona, so many of our markets close for the summer and are just now opening back up :)

  • Britta

    It is such a good tip to remember where your money is going! It feels so much nicer to think you actually helped out a family or a small business instead of just throwing your money at a company which probably has way more than it needs.

    • http://www.kayliwanders.com/ Kayli Schattner

      I couldn’t agree more! It makes my heart happy :)

  • Cailee Joy

    Hey girl! I stummbeled upon your blog and I just wanted to say it’s so cute! You are adorable and I love the way you spell your name! I’m Cailee w. a C! Anyways thanks for the famers market tips!!

    • http://www.kayliwanders.com/ Kayli Schattner

      So glad you came across my blog, Cailee! How’d you find me? :) I’m glad you enjoyed my tips! What’s your blog- I’d love to check it out!

  • http://spuddybuddies.com/ Raine and Skye

    Um, these are great tips Kayli! I definitely always feel like I buying everything that attracts my attention. There needs to be some farmers markets here!

    • http://www.kayliwanders.com/ Kayli Schattner

      Where do you live?? I just love them :) I too, feel like buying everything in sight! ;)

  • Christina McCall

    Saving the dirty dozen list for future farmers market trips. My local one just closed up shop until April, but I think the city I work in may still have there’s running for a bit longer.

    • http://www.kayliwanders.com/ Kayli Schattner

      So glad you found it to be of help, Christina!

  • http://andyestojoy.com/ Amber | And Yes To Joy

    After my first farmer’s market trip I was hooked! For less than $20 bucks I can get CRAZY amounts of yummy fresh fruits and veggies. One market in the city even gives a 10% discount to college students — PERFECTION!! In the fall, we have a farmer’s market set up right on campus once a week that I think you would love :)

  • http://alwayskerri.mintforever.com/ Kerri Waller

    This post is awesome! These are great tips! I don’t feel so overwhelmed about my local farmer’s market now. Definitely going there today :)

  • Sky Fisher

    Thanks for all the great tips! I’m so bummed because there are no local farmer’s markets near me. That’s what happens when you live in the middle of nowhere, I guess. I’ve always been jealous of all these gorgeous farmers markets in the cities. Great haul, btw!

  • http://www.lightandsweetblog.com/ Filiz O’Brien

    These are great tips! I always forget whats on the dirty dozen list. I use a CSA/Farm share program to get my fresh veggies and fruits. I love supporting local farms!
    x
    LightandSweetblog.com

  • http://www.estherandjacob.com/ esther julee

    So good to know! I tend to always go on the cheap and just get whatever’s available. But after reading Omnivore’s dilemma, it’s making me want to shop more at farmer’s markets. I’m going this weekend for the first time! Well.. not the first time ever to go to one.. but the first time to actually buy something and not just browse. :)