The season for Farmer’s Market shopping is in full swing. I love the idea of Farmer’s Markets. I love the idea of buying local, fresh, often-organic food grown by hard working people who till the land in my backyard. However, last week, I packed up the kids and arrived at the farmer’s market with thirty dollars to spend. Two hours later, I returned home with a single sack of zucchini, a little mound of fresh goat cheese, and a handful of cherries. Not such a good deal. Our family food budget is tight, and I need $30 to go a lot farther than a single sack of produce. So, I asked a few Farmer’s Market frequenters…How can I get the best deal for my family, while still supporting our local farmers? Here are seven of their best secrets.
(1) Make Friends
After choosing my favorites stands, I continue to go back week after week. The farmers start to recognize me and we refer to each other by name. Farmers definitely appreciate loyalty and they call the shots, so they are always willing to cut you a deal and will round down .. way down …
(2) Give Yourself a Budget
A lot of times I will go up to a stand and say, “Throw in my bag the best you have this week. Everything you can for $10.00.” Farmers know their own produce like the back of their hands and will give you the best of the best. Most often, they get overly excited and will give you more produce worth than what you really paid for. Be prepared to change around your menu if you have one. Trust me, it will be worth it!
(3) Watch your Timing
Show up when it is almost time for closing. Not only do Farmers not want to have to schlep it all back, but they have to sell the food/produce before it goes bad. Near closing is a great time to negotiate if the farmers are not already cutting you a great deal.
(4) Buy in bulk.
If you buy a lot of something or order a large quantity in advance, you can ask for a deal if it’s not offered
(5) Ask for Seconds. Check with the farmer to see if they have any items that aren’t quite perfect, then ask for a deal on those that might work for you. I got a great deal on peaches that didn’t look great but since I was cutting them up for smoothies anyway, I could work around any “not so great” spots
(6) Buy in Season. The best buys at the farmers markets are what the farmers have a lot of – this time of year it might be tomatoes or squash. I tend to spend my money on what I know is going to be so much better at the farmer’s market than in the store such as tomatoes, stone fruit and melons. I can pretty much buy organic carrots anywhere. And the deal part for many farmer’s market items is that, the food was picked fresher so it will likely last longer and taste better.
(7) Take a Walk. Many people recommend walking the market first to see what’s there before spending any money. However, beware! Some of the best deals might be gone by the time you get back around.
Special thanks to Kristen Dusold of Liv Personal Training and Jill Nussinow, The Veggie Queen for sharing their excellent tips and insights. Please click on the links to visit their personal websites and to find more of their great tips on health, nutrition, and eating right.