This weekend, the Emmaus Farmer’s Market opens again…thank GOD! I have been craving the fresh greens and local foods that only a farmer’s market can deliver. There are people who I am looking forward to seeing who I know will be there. And there are people who will be missing (George and Melanie!) who I will be sad not to see.
This morning I was cleaning out my freezer in preparation for a new season of food to freeze for winter, and I found a bag of George’s blueberries that everyone had overlooked (the rest were long gone a few weeks after I froze them). There were only about 10 left in the bag, but Lucia jumped with joy and promptly devoured them. (She’s feeling better, by the way.)
Here are my top ten ways to get the most out of your farmer’s market this season…
1. Freeze stuff. When the blueberries, strawberries, or corn are in season, buy in bulk and freeze them for long-lasting pleasure. Frozen fruits are great for snacking and smoothies. Frozen vegetables are great for soups and casseroles. And frozen meats are just plain good for eating.
2. Get there early for the best selection. I know if I want microgreens (bigger than sprouts, but with no seeds and totally delicious in salads), I need to get there in the first 15 minutes or I’m out of luck.
3. Get there late for the best deals. If you are looking to save money, head over towards the end and buy the remnants.
4. Bring your own bags. This not only saves paper and plastic, but makes you look like you know what you are doing. Even better…
5. Bring a cart on wheels. I sometimes even take the cart back to the car, empty it and refill it again. I’ve had too much physical therapy on my shoulders and hands to screw it up carrying heavy bags around. Plus you want to be comfortable so you can…
6. Socialize! For me, going to the Farmer’s Market on Sunday morning is kind of like going to church. You see who is in town, meet old friends, make new friends, and basically feel the love of community and breaking bread together—although if we are lucky this week, we can get there in time for the fluffy and delicious whole wheat croissants!
7. Try new things. If you see something and you don’t know what it is, ask the vendors, and ask them how to cook it. You just might find a new favorite food.
8. Spread the love. Don’t buy all your stuff from just one vendor. Look around to find the best examples of each food and buy from many sellers.
9. Ask if it’s organic. Just because you are at a Farmer’s Market doesn’t mean everything that’s sold is organic (or even local, for that matter). Look each vendor in the eye and ask “Is this organic? Do you use chemicals?” See what they say, and decide accordingly.
10. Cook! There is nothing like fresh, in-season, delicious, local, and organic food to make you want to cook. Buy what looks good, and when you get home, look up recipes on rodale.com. You can search in all sorts of ways, including by ingredient and health concern (if you have diabetes, for example, and want to make something with those delicious blueberries).