10 Steps to Becoming a Savvy Farmer’s Market Shopper 10 Steps to Becoming a Savvy Farmer’s Market ShopperAugust 26, 2016 in Recipes, Tips + BlogShare ThisFacebookPinterestTwitterPrintemailSummertime means farmer’s markets galore! I absolutely love farmer’s markets because it’s a chance for me to connect with the local food scene, re-aquaint myself with seasonal produce, and get inspiration and fabulous tips for the vendors who know their food the best. It’s my favorite way to spend a Saturday morning and I’ve picked up quite a few tips to making the most of the morning trip. Scout the Scene – when you arrive it may be a little overwhelming because there are so many options to choose from supplied by a multitude of vendors. Don’t buy produce at the first vendor you see (unless you found something so incredibly unique that you love and it’s the last one). Shop the whole farmer’s market first and then go back to the choices that you’re still thinking about. Make sure the item you buy is the best in the marketplace. 2. Get Inspired – People are selling ingredients AND making food! My farmer’s market offers a series of cooking demos from celebrated local restaurant chefs and there’s always something fun I get to witness and learn. Last week the chef made an amazing crostini with burrata cheese (and was out of this world delish!) but what I remember most from the whole demonstration was that he used champagne vinegar as the acid in his vinaigrette. I usually stick to white and red wine vinegar so I took that moment of inspiration and tossed it my fruit salads the rest of the week. It was a bright and new pop of flavor that revived excitement in my usual routine. 3. Score Cooking Tips – Part of the beauty of farmer’s markets is that they bring tons of new fruits and vegetables you may have never heard of. At first we may glance over them because we don’t know what the heck to do with them but don’t steer away from these! Ask the farmer how they prepare it and if it seems like something you’d like to try – get it! This not only keeps your cooking style fresh and interesting but you’re able to consume a new piece of produce (i.e. new nutrients!) for a more varied diet. I loved checking out these black chickpeas and produce flowers from Black Cat Organic Farm & Bistro. 4. Bring cash – nowadays technology has made it very easy to pay with credit/debit at farmer’s market but there are still some vendors that don’t operate this way. Bring small bills for these vendors. Also, this helps me keep my budget in-line because I’m like a kid in a candy store at farmer’s markets. I will spend over $100 in 30 minutes if I don’t watch myself. Bringing $30 or $50 helps me stay in line with my budget. 5. Get the “ugly” items – ugly in this sense means non-uniform (not rotten). They offer the option to create interesting presentations on your plate and may even spark inspiration to try a new cooking technique to seasoning profile. When I take home a turnip that jig-jags and swirls there’s something inside of me that gets excited for how I can present it because its not just any ordinary turnip, it’s a swirly jig-jagged turnip. Instead of cubing and roasting I’ll keep it whole and maybe make a confit with it or create a seasonal marinade and grill it. It really gets the inspiration going for me. 6. Pick Up Insider Tips – Ask what’s coming up next week to plan your menu. Maybe there’s a cool new vegetable or a color that they’re so excited about. Ask them what’s tasting the best that day. If you make the extra effort it’s worth it. The carrot from the farmers market is going to taste better than the carrot sitting in a plastic bag in the grocery store. Even if they look busy, talk to the vendors. They put their love, sweat, and tears into their product – they’re more than happy to talk about it. 7. Keep the Tops – many grocery store chop the greens off of carrots, beets, and other root vegetables but there are so many benefits to keeping these tops from enhancing the flavor of a dish, creating a pretty garnish, and adding yet another layer of nutrients. Most vendors at farmer’s markets will not cut the tops off which is great! Don’t ask them to cut it off and instead ask them what you can do with them. If they don’t have an answer you like you can always do more research when you go home. 8. Get a Sense of Culture – whenever I’m on vacation or just heading out on a day-trip I always try to locate the farmer’s market in-town. I may not be stocking up on tons of veggies (because I don’t carry my fridge around with me) but its a perfect way to see what the locals eat, find out the best healthy restaurants to eat while in town, and pick up some healthy snacks to munch on during the day. I went to Buena Vista, CO for the day and found these amazing sweet and soft turnips! Check out my reaction to them! It’s a fun way to embrace the treasures of travel. 9. Grab your meats, eggs, and poultry here – Most farmers at a local market practice organic and pasture-raised standards and it’s a great way to directly chat with the farmers themselves to get a really good idea of the ethical practices they value. This is not the case when picking up a carton of eggs at the grocery store so use this time to your advantage. This particular vendor feeds their hens with organic feed, kelp, and probiotics! Yes please! 10. Don’t forget the flowers – Farmer’s markets usually have a plethora of floral options whether they’re flowers from their crops or actual floral arrangements. This is a great opportunity to find a great table setting for your farmer’s market dinner!