Market Tips

Top 10 Consumer Tips for the Farmers’ Market

1. Show Up Early!

Arriving too late means big crowds and picked-over produce. Beat the rush by coming early and getting the best of the season. Morning light (if you happen to be attending a morning market) is also the best for snapping pictures, if you’re into that sort of thing.

2. Remember to BYOB (Bring Your Own Bag!)

Vendors at the Ventura County Certified Farmers’ Markets do provide small plastic or paper bags for your convenience. However, in the spirit of being “green,” remember to bring along reusable bags – the vendors are sure to appreciate your effort! You definitely want to have a larger bag to carry your bounty or you’ll be heading home prematurely.

3. Don’t Be Afraid to Try Something New

One of the advantages of shopping at a farmers’ market is that you get the best of the season from Certified California farmers – a likely difference from your local grocery store purchases. There’s nothing wrong with buying foods you know you like, but try to be adventurous with new produce. You may be pleasantly surprised!

4. Ask Questions

You may not know everything there is to know about seasonal produce, but the farmers who grow it certainly do. Walk up to each vendor with a smile and ask them what their favorites are this week. Most vendors have sample recipes, preparation tips, and serving suggestions for their products – all you need to do is ask!

5. Forgot to bring Cash?

No problem! At the Market Information Booth you can purchase market tokens with your credit or debit card for a small fee. These market tokens are accepted at all market booths and do not have an expiration date.

6. Don’t Forget Your Veggies

There are so many ways to bring more veggies into your diet – steamed, raw, skewered, grilled, baked and as a substitute for meat in recipes. Veggies can also be a budget stretcher when in season and they can be almost as sweet as candy when picked fresh and at maximum ripeness.

7. Remember the Eggs and Meat

Our farmers’ markets are some of the best places to find farmers from sustainable farms with eco-friendly practices. Don’t forget to pick up your eggs, meat, and cheese products from our local producers to reduce environmental impact (you’ll find that the quality is far superior as well!)

8. Leave Your Pets at Home

Due to current California State health regulations, it is illegal to bring dogs to farmers’ markets unless they are service animals providing assistance. Please remember to find appropriate accommodations for your furry friend before arriving at the market.

9. Remember Your Farmers’ Market Etiquette

Farmers’ markets are not flea markets, and haggling or negotiating a price is generally not part of the etiquette. Sometimes very late in the day, farmers will offer discounts, but it’s generally best practice to respect set prices. Farmers work harder than most of us can imagine, and their asking prices are more than fair.

10. Shop Around

Samples are commonplace at farmers’ markets and allow you to find the produce that best suits your taste. Shop around a bit before deciding on the best purchases. You know you’ve picked the right stuff if you can barely get it home without eating it all!

Written for EcoSalon for Yahoo! ® Green. Adapted for VCCFMA.