Farmers Markets are gearing up to serve patrons this coming Summer season. They are a wonderful place to get flavourful fruits, vegetables, meats, and more.
Another benefit of shopping at a farmers market is traditionally the food comes straight from local growers to the market, skipping the freezer and need for high preservatives.
The lack of freezing and preservatives can pose its own set of challenges but these tips will help you shop smart and avoid waste:
1. Tis’ The Season – This may not dawn on most of you but corn in the grocery store in let’s say December is no easy task. The availability means it has to be grown in a region where it’s currently in season and shipped long distances till it reaches the grocery store.
All that travelling usually means 1 of 3 things has been done to the produce to ensure it remains fresh upon arrival: (1) it is shipped frozen (2) it’s high in preservatives or (3) it is genetically modified to degrade slower.
As I mentioned earlier, farmers Markets offer the advantage of locally grown produce coming straight from the farm to the market thereby, skipping the need to freeze, preserve, or genetically modify the product. That aslo means no corn in December (at least not around Southwestern Ontario or other Northern climates).
So adjusting your recipes to seasonally available produce will help when shopping at a farmers market.
If you know a bit of what to expect when you get to the farmers market, making decisions at each stall is much easier. Learn what grows in your area when and talk to the growers about what will be coming to market in upcoming weeks.
2. Go Early – Following with point one (1) time equals freshness (more or less). Also, most markets are stocked at the beginning of the work day so as with any limiting commodity supply dwindles and the best supply dwindles soonest.
3. …Or Go Late – For the best deals, go to the farmers market late. Farmers and other vendors sometimes discount products instead of loading them back up and carry them home. The one caveat is left over supply may mean lower quality or smaller size.
4. Big Bags & Small Change – The bags vendors offer are usually flimsy and they often cannot break large bills (rarely do you see cards accepted as well).
5. Buy in Bulk – Sticking with point (3) vendors don’t want the task of lugging stock home at the end of the day and they may also be faced with over production so there are incentives to selling in bulk.
Freezing, canning, or drying are some of the ways you can take advantage of bulk prices without wasting product.
6. Straight From The Soil – The less processing the produces goes through the likely more nutritious and flavourful. For example, unpeeled carrots, beets with greens (and dirt) attached, etc. The handling required to prep these raw items takes some getting use but, the superior flavour is well worth the effort.
7. Start a Conversation – Farmers are a perfect resource for tips on food preparation and preservation (not preservatives but yes those too). Also, how they like to eat it! Building on point (1) local growers are likely your best connection on the seasonality of various produce and the nest time to consume those items in the season.
8. Get Some Wheels – you’ll quickly discover that produce isn’t light. Especially if you’re following tip (5). If you intend on taking advantage of Markets then you’ll want to get a portable shopping bag on wheels… on that note if you’re investing in the healthy living path and commuting by foot to your local market then a roller bag will definitely be a great investment.
**BONUS Cost Saving Tip**
For farmers markets near Cottage4Me or the Lake St Clair-Lakeshore Area visit: http://welookforlocal.ca/lakeshore