How to Shop the Local Farmers Market

by Marie on August 26, 2009

Vanessa from I Never Grew Up is here again as my guest today. She’s sharing her knowledge on Farmers Markets and how to get the most from your Saturday morning experience.

Farmer’s market season is in full bloom; fortunately they are becoming more prevalent each year in cities around the country and the world. You can use farmers markets as a wonderful teaching tool for your children. They will come to understand so much more about the food they eat: where food comes from; the harvesting of crops; fair and healthy ways to raise animals for meat; why going organic is important for your health; how to support local farmers in your area. As you know children are more likely to become healthy eaters when they are involved in the cooking process. Can you imagine the possibilities when they not only help you cook a meal but also learn about the food you use and pick it out themselves?!

Farmers Market with Kids

Our little family can’t wait for Saturday morning when we pile in the car to spend quality time together at the Salt Lake City Farmers Market. The girls are excited to hold their own bags and find their own treasures. As parents we are thrilled to know we are teaching them so many important things while we are there. Farmers markets are full of diversity, vendors who put a lot of quality time and love into their products and of course some pretty yummy food.??Having a successful farmers market trip does require a bit of planning so I wanted to share with Make & Takes readers how our family gets ready for our trip to the local farmers market.

1. Educate yourself on what crops are harvested at what times so you will know what is available. You can do this by checking a book out from the library, searching online or talking to the farmers at the farmers market the week before. They are happy to share with you what crops are ready during certain weeks and get you excited to come back and buy from them some more. My personal favorite resource is the book; In Season: Cooking with Vegetable and Fruits by Sarah Raven it splits everything into chapters by season, explains what is harvesting and accompanies it with fantastic recipes. I start by writing the items I know will most likely be at the market and revolve my menu plan around that.

Planning for the Local Farmers Market

2. Put together a meal plan for the week and involve your family in the planning! When you plan your meals you will waste less food and end up saving more on groceries. It will get your kids excited to go to the farmers market, participate in the cooking and the best of all, actually eat their dinner! You will feel good knowing their meals are going to be full of fresh, nutritious fruits, vegetables, cheeses and meats.

3. Schedule it on the calendar so it actually happens and arrive as early as you can! We don’t even worry about feeding our girls; we hop in the car and let them buy their breakfast at the market. Arriving early will give you the best selection of crops, helps you beat the crowds and have more fun with your kids!

4. When you arrive take the time to quickly “window shop” to get a feel for the market. Make a mental (or physical) note of the stands that looked like they had the best quality, best deals or items that were new and interesting to you. When people offer you a sample, try it, it is the best way to know if you will like what you end up buying.

Local Farmers Market

5. Be brave and try new things. Never had goat cheese yogurt or artichoke pesto? Try a sample and encourage your kids to taste test as well. They will be caught up in the fun and excitement of the market and will be more willing to jump in and try foods you normally wouldn’t see anywhere near their mouths.

6. Shop away! I buy EVERYTHING we need for the week at the farmers market. I end up spending anywhere from $100-$150 per Saturday. But even if you wanted to just prepare one or two meals during the week from purchases made at the farmers market it would be well worth the trip and just as much fun for your family.

7. Don’t buy food you won’t use that week and be even more careful with certain crops that spoil more quickly. When you do buy fresh, local food and sometimes organic food it often spoils sooner, which is just part of buying locally and organically. We love fresh berries from the market but we know during those first couple days we can use them in certain recipes that call for fresh berries, but if we want to use them later in the week we need to freeze them, which is perfect for yummy smoothies, sorbets and ice creams.??Hopefully these tips have helped get you ready for your visit to your local farmers market. Hope to see you there!

Thanks, Vanessa. Great tips! I love going to the local Farmer’s Market. How can you pass up such fabulously fresh produce?!

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