Tips for Shopping at the Farmers’ Market

Posted on May 28, 2013

Intimidated by farmers’ markets? Or maybe new to the process? Here are some tips I’ve learned over the years:

  1. Get there early. It’s less crowded and the best stuff goes quickly. This is especially true for fruit. If a farmer only has so many quarts of berries or cherries, he may sell out within the first 30 minutes. If you want to be sure you don’t miss anything, get there when it opens.
  2. Take plenty of cash. Though more farmers are starting to take credit cards (thanks to smart phones and tablets), cash is still, by far, the most common method of payment. And take more than you think you’ll need for those “I simply can’t leave without this” moments.
  3. Buy your necessities first, then, if you have cash leftover, go for the fun, maybe not so necessary, stuff.
  4. See a vegetable or fruit you don’t know? Ask the farmer how to prepare it.
  5. Hit as many stands as possible until you get to know the farmers. Buy from a variety of people. Soon you’ll get to know your favorites.
  6. Don’t expect the fruits and vegetables to look perfect. Don’t be scared off by the sight of dirt. Food picked fresh from the ground isn’t going to be flawless.
  7. Expect to pay more for some things. Vegetables are usually reasonable, but things such as honey, syrup, jam, and fruit will seem high, if you’re not used to markets. Remember: you get what you pay for. These things may cost more than the grocery store, but taste wise, there’s no comparison. Plus products in grocery stores often have added ingredients to make them cheaper. At the market, you get the best quality possible, while supporting local businesses.
  8. Take your own bags
  9. Be prepared to stand in lines. Peaches, strawberries, corn, and tomatoes bring out the crowds.
  10. Talk to the farmers and the people in line around you. The type of people who shop at markets are usually the type of people who love talking about food. It’s the best way to get recipe ideas and to get to know the best food in the area.

Though there are many markets around central Ohio, these are my personal favorites:

The Westerville Farmers’ Market: Wednesday 3-6pm

The Worthington Farmers’ Market: Saturday 8-12pm