Shop farmers markets and roadside stands like a pro
Honey, pull over! If you hear those words from your favorite farm-stand spotter, you’d be wise to stop. This time of year, local farmers markets and roadside stands are brimming with fresh produce at its peak. From cantaloupe to sweet corn, you’ll find juicy, just-picked versions of your favorites grown close to home. And you just might discover a tasty new treat.
Why pick local produce?
Those farm-stand peaches and tomatoes sure do taste heavenly. But great flavor is just one reason to hit local produce stands. Often, the fruits and vegetables at the farmers market were picked just days—or even hours—ago. So they’re at their most fresh and nutritious.
Plus, buying from nearby growers supports your local economy. And chatting with local farmers—not to mention catching up with friends and neighbors—helps strengthen community ties.
To top it off? You can often find great deals. So buying local, in-season fruits and veggies just might help you save on your food bill. And many of these markets accept SNAP/EBT payments, as well, which is a wonderful opportunity for low-income families to have a bounty of fresh, healthy foods for the week!
Make the most of your farmers market visit
Buying local produce is an all-around win. Whether you’re a seasoned roadside warrior or a farm-stand first-timer, these tips can help you take full advantage of the season’s plenty:
- Time it right. For the biggest selection, beat the crowds and get there first thing. Want to score a great deal? Head over right before everyone closes up shop. That’s when farmers are most likely to offer deep discounts.
- Come prepared. Many farm stands only take cash, so it’s smart to have some small bills handy. And bring along your reusable shopping bags to haul everything home.
- Survey the scene. Scope out all the goods before buying anything. You’ll get a chance to see what different vendors are offering and find the best prices.
- Shop small. You don’t have to buy an entire week’s worth of produce all at once. How about grabbing just a few ingredients for a simple salad or picking the perfect fruit for tonight’s dessert?
- Get friendly with your farmer. Wondering how to prep that strange-looking squash, or want to know the difference between an aprium and a pluot? Just ask. Farmers love sharing their know-how. They can also tell you about their growing methods—which can be helpful if you’re looking for organic produce.
- Buy safe. It’s normal to find imperfectly shaped produce. But steer clear of items that are bruised or damaged. If you’re buying any precut produce (like half a watermelon), make sure it’s been on ice or in a refrigerator since it was cut.
- Wash before you eat. It’s tough, but resist the urge to nibble on the way home. Unwashed produce can harbor bacteria that could make you sick. Before cooking or eating, always rinse your fruits and veggies thoroughly under running water—even if you plan on peeling them.
Canning your haul? Beware of botulism
Homemade pickles and jams are a tasty way to enjoy summer’s bounty all year long. But if you’re not careful, they can give you food poisoning. Learn how to steer clear.