It’s a different world out there, isn’t it? And with the rising demand for fresh and local produce in the past few years, the excitement seems to have doubled.
I have spent most of my childhood on the countryside where I used to visit local farms and observe how people just love putting that extra effort in taking care of their farm produce. And that experience, kind of, made me a regular at the farmer’s market.
Now as enchanting as this may sound, if you are new to shopping at the locals, your first time experience can be quite overwhelming.
But then, you are going to thank me because these years of hovering around the farmers, have made me learn a few easy tricks on how to reap the best out of them. So, let’s get started.
Dress According To Your Comfort
If you are a first timer, you need to get this right. Your experience at the outside is the opposite of what it is within the four walls of a supermarket. You’re prone to the heat, the rain and the dust. Plus, with a lot to explore, you need to move around a lot. So, loose tees, and your daily slippers will do just fine when you head out to the locals.
Get yourself a reusable grocery bag. That comes extremely handy in case you’re planning to buy for the week. Most farmers offer small plastic bags which can be pretty annoying. Your leafy greens need special care until they reach home. For frozen food, carry an insulated bag.
Leave Your Car Keys At Home
Parking can be a hassle when you are heading to the market. These markets are really populated and sometimes, on the busy days, parking your feet in the mob could be a challenge too! So, better take a stroll or pick up your bike.
Plan Your Meal
Don’t just hit off blindly to the market, plan your meal for the next few days at least, so that you pick exactly what you need and avoid confusion. Plus, you wouldn’t want to waste your veggies in case you missed a night or two at home.
Avoid The Big Bucks, Carry Change
You can’t expect the farmers to give you change. So make it a habit to carry change with you. The vendors appreciate that really, and at times, if you really run out of change, they would understand that too.
Google Your Homework
Know your calender and get an idea what’s growing in the season, so that you can pick the fresh and avoid chemically treated produce which certain farmers do to last their produce longer. Expect to buy only those veggies which can be grown locally in the nearby farms.
Also, know the original color and size of the fruit or the vegetable. Those tomatoes may look bright red, but they aren’t good probably.
When Its Time To Buy
Take A Stroll
The very moment you enter the market, you might be overwhelmed at the sight of it. Don’t be tempted to pick your veggies from the first shop you laid eyes on. What’s the hurry?
Take a stroll in those comfy slippers and look around. Observe what others are buying and whats in plenty.
Chit Chat A Little With The Farmers
The best way to know if what you’re buying is healthy, is by talking to the farmers. This is something you can’t expect in a supermarket. So grab this chance to know more about how the food is grown, and learn whats coming in the next week, this way you can plan your meals ahead of time.
There have been times when I can’t recognize a particular vegetable, and I ask the farmer, and he’s happy to tell me all about it including his secret recipes!
Bookmark Your Favorites
Though its always fitting to browse around, its also handy if farmers know you by face. As you begin to frequent the market regularly, pick few farmers whose produce you found healthy, so the next time you visit them, they’ll keep aside the best for you.
Shop Early To Bring Home The Best
Try and hit the market early morning in order to grab your greens and yellows fresh and healthy. This may be a little painstaking but its worth it. You’ll be surprised to know how the fresh stuff usually gets cleared within an hour or so.
On the contrary, you get the best deals when it hits the dark. At this time, farmers are more concerned about clearing the remains off the table, and they are more than willing to do so for a cheaper price.
Touch And Taste
When in doubt about picking a particular fruit, touch it and see if its too soft. Take it home if you plan to eat it fresh. Or else, go for the raw and firm ones in case you plan to keep them frozen for the later part of the week.
Also, ask them if you could taste one and offer to pay for it. Its always better to pay for one rather than taking home a bunch of tasteless ones.
Don’t Be Obsessed With The “Organic” Label
Many farmers might not be able to get their food certified as organic as they may not be able to afford it. This doesn’t mean that they are not good. Most of them take equal care to raise their produce and often take pride in it.
However, markets that are brimming with re sellers, are more concerned with what they paid for it, so it is highly likely that they would sell off frozen goods and leftovers.
A Chance To Try Something New
Buying from the farmers market has actually helped me discover few veggies that I otherwise didn’t know they exist. So, don’t hesitate to try something that arrived new in the market.
Apply Your Negotiating Skills
This is something I can bet on from my experience, at least. When you take that stroll, you’ll find that many farmers price certain goods higher while the same would be sold at cheaper rates by others. This can be due to the way they raised their produce. So, take your time before you give in.
Look Out For The Grower’s Market
So keep your chit chat alive with the farmers to know the real story about where the food originally comes from.
Follow these tips and tricks and let me know if it adds value to your shopping experience. Also, remind yourself to take time out of your schedule when you go to the market. Otherwise you will miss the fun part.
Stay tuned until next week for the next part of the series.
Till then, shop smart!
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