Shopping at a farmers market is a great way to eat a healthier diet while also supporting your local farmers and agriculture. Unfortunately, the pricing of locally grown fresh produce can be slightly more expensive than what you would spend at a local grocery store and this often turns people off from shopping local.
Shopping organically or locally can be a great option for your family but it can be a challenge to do so while figuring out a way to save money. Luckily, following a few simple tips can help you reap the benefits of seasonal fruits and veggies while still saving you a buck or two.
Research The Local Markets –
There may be a farmers market right in your hometown but you may want to spend some time researching other markets that are within a short drive from your home or even your office. Some of the markets that are in a very populated area feel they can hike up the prices of what they are providing because it is in high demand. A quieter area may have the same quality of produce but at much more affordable price points. Click here for a national list of farmers markets.
Buy Lower Quality –
It might sound crazy to want to buy bruised or slightly old produce but think about what you are using the items for. If you are planning to put them in a fruit bowl and eat them whole then you probably want pristine produce items. But, if you are going to be canning items or cooking them, there’s nothing wrong with buying some slightly damaged items in order to save money. A lot of farmers will have separate baskets of tomatoes, peaches, peppers, etc. that aren’t perfect looking but are perfect to consume and you can make a deal with them regarding the price you pay. Farmers will usually give you deals on overripe produce or items that they need to get rid of that day. Depending on what kind of market you’re at, the overripe produce might not be displayed so you may have to ask for it because sometimes it’s hidden away.
Start A Relationship With The Farms –
Once you have done some research and have chosen the market that you are going to attend on a regular basis, get to know the farms and the farmers that you are shopping from. As you learn about where your food is coming from you will not only feel good about what you are feeding your family but you will also develop a relationship with the people who are growing your food and you may find this will get you a deal on items as time goes on.
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Don’t Bring A Shopping List With You –
When you attend farmers markets don’t make up a meal plan and a list like you would maybe do if you went to a grocery store. Seasonal produce changes constantly at markets and you are better off picking out your items for purchase by what is available and how much it is. You might not have had anything in mind that required peaches but it is the tail end of peach season and farmers are offering up bushels of discounted peaches. Grab them and figure something out to make with them later on. Don’t do this with an item you’ve never used before. Feel free to buy one or two of something new and learn a new recipe, but don’t feel like you need to buy extra large quantities because a lot of it may go to waste.
Buy In Bulk –
You will save a lot of money if you know what to do with large quantities of food. Canning is very easy once you learn how to do it and you can use this process for a number of fresh produce foods like peaches, beans, tomatoes, and so on. You can also freeze a lot of different foods but you may need to blanch certain items before flash freezing them and packaging so do a quick internet search to make sure you are doing things the right way. Otherwise, you will go to use your items a couple of months later when the weather has turned cold and you will find that you did something wrong and your items have spoiled or are not usable for one reason or another.
Avoid The Busy Times –
The best time to negotiate or bargain with your local farmer is when he or she is not very busy. The “busy time” for most farmers markets is usually in the morning or the early afternoon, around 10:00 am to 1:00 pm. There might also be a rush around 5:00 pm to 6:00 pm when people get out of work and start heading home. Try to go sometime in the very early morning or in the afternoon before the 5:00 pm rush.
If you are going to be headed to a farmers market in your area, bring cash money with you and some bags as well. Some stalls may accept credit cards or debit cards, but it’s harder to keep track of how much you are spending. Cash is always the best and safest bet when you go. Farmers appreciate when you have something that you can reuse and carry your produce home in so they don’t have to provide you with anything, so bring your own reusable bags. They may even give you a discount if you don’t have to use one of their bags. It’s easier on everyone’s wallet and it’s better for the environment.
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