5 Tips to Navigating the Farmers’ Market Like a Pro

Mother and daughter picking out fresh produce at the farmers market

Summer wouldn’t be summer without barbecues by the pool! But sometimes hot dogs and burgers aren’t always enough to impress our foodie friends. For those of us lucky enough to have a local farmers’ market, poolside cookouts often begin with a Saturday-morning trip in search of the freshest, most delicious ingredients from local suppliers.

But shopping at farmers' markets can be quite a different experience from traditional grocery stores, often leaving new shoppers feeling underprepared for (or overwhelmed by) the number of fresh choices available. Here are our top five quick tips to navigating a farmers' market like a seasoned pro:

1. Bring plenty of cash

Most vendors at farmers’ markets only accept cash. You’ll want to bring plenty of cash in small bills (this will help cut down on change!) when shopping at the farmers’ market.

2. Bring your own bags

Most vendors don’t supply bags, leaving you to carry your delicious finds in your arms. You can solve this by bringing along your own reusable shopping bags. These are not only environmentally friendly, but they’re usually larger and easier to carry than traditional grocery bags!

3. Get there early or go late

Ideally, you want to be at the market first thing in the morning. Produce hasn’t been exposed to hours of sunlight, and early is best if you plan to buy fish or meat. The weather also tends to be nicer, and it’s much less exhausting shopping in the morning sun than the afternoon.

If you’re not an early bird, you might be served best by going nearer to closing time. Though some choices won’t be available at the end of the day, vendors are often more than happy to give deals in order to avoid carting their wares back to the farm.

4. Make a loop of the entire market first

This is really important for finding the best quality and it’s also a good way to learn where things are. Taking a stroll around before buying will help you find the best ingredients for your poolside feast!

5. Talk to your farmers

While you’re there, be sure to talk with the vendors! Not only can they explain to you what makes their products superior, but they’re often the most helpful at finding exactly what you want. They can tell you what to look for in quality food, and often they’ll tip you off to what’s coming up next in season. Nothing instills trust like when your farmer tells you to wait a couple weeks and the blueberries will be much sweeter.

So get out there and experience what your farmers’ market has to offer. And stay tuned - we’ll be sharing some great summer grilling recipes for the poolside where you can incorporate all your farmers’ market finds!