Top Ten Ways to Get the Most Out of Your Farmer’s Market

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).

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7 Responses to Top Ten Ways to Get the Most Out of Your Farmer’s Market

  1. Shelbi May 1, 2009 at 8:51 am #

    The Farmer’s Market is the best part of my summer weekend! Taking time out to enjoy all the produce, fresh fruits, flowers, meats and cheeses, baked goods and breads. It is a calming 30 minutes for me to take in what I love most about summer!

  2. Jeff May 1, 2009 at 9:07 am #

    I can’t wait to see my friend, “the goat lady”….from Nazareth. The best chevre I have ever had.

  3. Vince May 1, 2009 at 10:43 am #

    Hey Maria, another excellent post. I like the advice, I definitely bring my own bags, freeze stuff and east things as soon as possible to get the most out of the freshness. Although, most of the produce that I get there is probably a lot fresher than the stuff from the supermarkets, which have traveled who knows how long to get there, whereas the farmer’s market is always local.

    Don’t forget about us at toptentopten.com, we look forward to your future lists as well.

  4. Renee May 1, 2009 at 12:18 pm #

    Wonderful pointers for people to remember. I’ve never tried freezing fresh food before but I’ll have to look into it for this summer’s berries.

    Another great way to enjoy the farmer’s freshest ingredients, a little less expensively is to join the farmer’s CSA. SoCal has so many wonderful CSA options and its really improved by husband and I’s eating habits because we refuse to let food go to waste and we incorporate fresh local food in almost all of our meals.

  5. marlissa May 3, 2009 at 11:19 am #

    thanks for all the reading in the post this is my first year in growing vegetables and i am happly to say i am very sore in the body but my soul is happy because i was giving a lot of land so i decided to use all of it and i will be donating my vegetables to home-less and food banks and seniors in the community…to god be the glory

  6. Stacy Miller May 19, 2009 at 9:03 pm #

    Nice post, Maria! Keep up the good work, and join the Farmers Market Coalition on facebook: http://apps.facebook.com/causes/90493

  7. Susan Katz May 12, 2010 at 2:04 pm #

    Remember You-Pick farms as well as local farmer’s markets! When I drive from Baltimore, MD back to Michigan to visit relatives, I plan the trip around blueberry season. A favorite is Strong’s Blueberry farm near Union City, MI. It’s easy to transport the berries in coolers and freeze them once I get home.

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