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Get the Most from Your Local Farmer's Market


Local farmer's markets are great places for finding the best quality and freshest local produce; although you may find your biggest challenge is not buying too much! The whole idea of shopping at your local farmer's market is to build what you'll eat for the week around what's in season and looks good. An additional benefit is supporting your local growers and farmers. Here are some tips for making the most of your trip to the local farmer's market.

  • Take a lap. Take a few minutes to stroll around and check out the variety of picks. The freshest cantaloupe may be at the next booth.
     
  • Chat it up. If you see produce you don't recognize, ask questions about it. Vendors and farmers love to share their knowledge and can even give you recipes and cooking tips.
     
  • Taste it. If you can't tell if something is ripe and flavorful, ask for a taste and offer to pay for it. Buying one tomato may save you from buying a bushel of tasteless ones.
     
  • Try something new. Challenge yourself to buy one thing each week that you've never had before. Ask the farmer the best way to enjoy it.
     
  • Pick wisely. Ask when the produce was picked. This can be important since some foods, such as corn and peas, can lose their appealing sugars quickly.
     
  • Take a look. Know that often the prettiest peach or apple may not be the tastiest. However, if anything is bruised, wilted, or tired-looking, don't buy it.
     
  • Size isn't everything. Often the smaller ear of corn, zucchini, or green bean is sweeter. Remember, pickling cucumbers can be delicious eaten raw. They often have distinctive, especially appealing character.
     
  • Compare prices. You can price shop at the farmer's market. The best buy might be down the next row.
     
  • Keep it cool. If you plan to make your trip on your lunch break, be sure to take your picks back inside with you. For fruits and veggies best kept cool, toss some ice cubes from your freezer in plastic storage bags and keep your picks fresh in a cooler.
     
  • Go green and not just with your veggies. Recycle grocery store plastic bags by bringing them with you and asking dealers to use them instead of theirs. Better yet, bring your own tote bags to the market.

With the flavors of just-harvested foods, you can keep your dishes simple. Enjoy your farmer's market picks!

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