The farmers market is becoming a familiar place to people of all walks of life. Organic foodies, lovers of all things local and parents looking for the best choices for their children can all find a happy home at the farmers market. But if you’ve never visited your local market, you may be curious about what to expect and maybe even what to bring. Though no two markets are the same, there are certain characteristics that ring true through most of them.
What to Expect
Often, farmers markets are the vibrant and buzzing centers of the local community. Some markets are small with only a few booths selling strictly produce. Others, like the Portland Saturday Market in Oregon, are so large that they run down several blocks and house vendors who make crafts, musicians, food vendors as well as farmers.
The first thing that you can obviously expect is food. Whether it’s ready made specialty food or in-season fruits and veggies, markets are a wonderful place to be to enjoy the beautiful variety of colors and textures of food. Some markets are so extensive that they not only have stands with fruits and vegetables, but with locally made olive oil, nuts, dates, eggs, beans and local honey. Markets like this may encourage you to make this the only place to shop. On top of the normal food that graces your shopping list, keep an eye out for different items you’ve never tried before!
Locally Handmade Crafts
On top of food items, markets are great places to get handmade goods from local vendors. If you’re lucky enough to have a market that carries more than just food, you may also find amazing local crafts such as homemade soaps, hand weaved baskets, even fresh skeins of yarn! Purchasing items like this at a local market help to support your local economy and leave you with the great feeling of knowing that you may be helping put dinner on the table for a local family.
What to Bring
On top of the things that you would normally bring to a grocery store, there are a few items to consider bringing to your local market to make your trip go smoother.
Don’t forget your cash!
It’s always a good idea to carry cash. Though some of the vendors at markets are now beginning to accept credit cards thanks to new technology, most farmers still only accept cash. Be sure to bring smaller bills, as farmers may have trouble breaking the larger ones.
Reduce your plastic waste – bring those shopping totes
Another important thing to bring with you is your reusable tote bags. Do your best to bring along enough bags to fill with vegetables and fruit, on top of the totes you’ll use to carry all of your items. Most vendors only have plastic bags; so don’t expect to find the option for a paper bag here. Doing your part to bring your own bags will reduce waste, save the vendor money, and make for an overall smoother transaction. Some people even bring along beautiful baskets to hold their goodies.
Get your questions answered
The last thing to bring along with you to the farmers market is your questions. One of the greatest gifts about the market is that you get to shake hands with the person who grew your food. Isn’t that great? Many farmers love letting you know the process that they use to grow their food, so don’t be afraid to ask if they use fertilizers or pesticides. Curious about how to use the foreign veggie they’re selling? Ask the farmer for some tips and recipes! Bring your questions and an open mind and you may discover some things you’ve never know about food.
Shopping at the local market is good for the local economy and your health. It is a wonderful way to support other families and to know exactly what is in your food. Many local markets are now beginning to accept SNAP benefits (also known as food stamps) with the intention of providing better nutrition for everyone as well as boosting the local economy. You can find a list of those accepting SNAP here.
Don’t forget to head over to the Nutiva Kitchen and search for the food items you brought home for great recipe ideas.
Do you shop at your local farmers market? Are you able to find all of your grocery needs or just produce there? Let us know in the comments below!