Tackle your local outdoor market like a pro to find the freshest produce and the best deals.
The prevalence of farmers' markets in the U.S. seems to have been growing faster than asparagus in the springtime – and for good reason! These markets feature the freshest fruits and veggies, sometimes at lower prices than what you would see at a traditional store, and connect the community to its farmers.
But for a novice, these bustling spaces may seem overwhelming or intimidating. Just keep these tips in mind and you'll be navigating your way through the produce-lined aisles with ease.
Before you go
When preparing to head to your local market, you may want to check to see what fruits and vegetables are in season for your region. This will help you identify the freshest produce, and may also be a good guide for a shopping list. Additionally, think about what items may be ideal for preserving or freezing, as these may be bought in bulk to be used throughout the season.
Be sure to bring your own shopping bags, because while most stands will have some bags on hand, many do expect customers to have their own. Plus, it's just good for Mother Earth. A small cart may also be helpful if you plan on picking up some heavier items.
Finally, a wad of cash and some comfortable walking shoes are invaluable to making your farmers' market trip a success, as some vendors may not accept cards and you're likely to be doing a lot of walking.
While you're there
Don't be a shrinking violet when talking to your local farmers, because they're a great source of information. Ask where the produce was grown, where the farm is located, what kind of chemicals are used in growing the fruits and veggies and even how the food should be prepared. Talking to the person who grows your food is one of the main benefits of shopping at a farmers' market.
Be careful to avoid buying all of your goods from the first vendors you see, as there may be some hidden gems toward the back of the market. Do a round before making any commitments in order to get the best of what's available.
When you get home
This is the best part, as you get to take in the glory of your verdant greens and luscious fruits – not to mention prepare and eat them.
If you need suggestions on what to do with your seasonal goods, try making Fruit with Pina Colada Dip
, Mini Fruit Pizzas
or some super healthy Quinoa Lettuce Wraps
What's your fave score at the farmers' market?