The New Guide to Shopping at the Farmers Market

farmers markets
Photo Credit: Mosuno

March 20, 2021

By Geraldine Campbell

It’s officially spring and, for me, that means it’s time to start going to my local farmers market again. The one in my neighborhood is small and only available on Sundays, but it’s still kind of intimidating. This was true before COVID, but it’s even more true now when we’re all wearing masks and waiting on line at six-foot intervals. If you don’t know what you want (as I so often don’t), you might feel like the person behind you in line is tapping their foot impatiently. And, you know what? They might be!

But that’s okay! Deep breaths in and out. Even in the midst of the pandemic, it’s easier than you think to shop at the farmers market. Here are some tips to make navigating the farmers market simple and fun:

1. Go early.

Don’t go so early that the vendors are still setting up and enjoying their pre-rush coffee, but do go early enough that you skip the crowds and get the best pick of produce.

2. Take a lap.

A farmers market is like a buffet; you want to explore your options before buying. My farmers market is one block long, which means I take a slow stroll in one direction, and then, on the return trip, I start buying.

3. Ask questions.

Do not ask so many questions that you make whoever is behind you angry, but also don’t be afraid to ask. If you don’t know what something is? Ask! Not sure how to prepare it? Ask! The farmers love to share their knowledge. And chances are that person behind you is interested, too.

4. Go with an open mind.

Often, I have a recipe in mind when I go to the farmers market, but then I get there and those carrots? Yeah, they look okay. But those parsnips? Wow. Be open to adjusting to take advantage of the season’s offerings and what looks amazing. Let yourself be inspired!

5. BYO Bags.

Some vendors offer plastic bags, but it’s more eco-friendly if you can bring your own re-usable bags from home. I have approximately 20. Would you like some of mine?

P.S. It probably goes without saying, but, just in case: Wear a mask, keep your distance, and be polite!