How to Shop a Farmers Market Like a Healthy Chef
Visiting your local farmers market is a great way to add variety into your diet. When shopping at your local super market, we tend to reach for the same fruits, vegetables and proteins.
We know what we like, how those items taste, and we have a routine of how we like to prepare them.
Sometimes the idea of trying something new sounds like a lot of work, and we just don’t have the time. Resist that mindset and shake up your routine. Your body will thank you.
WHY VISIT A FARMERS MARKET
Many people prefer going to a grocery store because they want to use coupons, get credit card points, or simply prefer the convenience. Adding a visit to your farmers market simply once a month will benefit you in many ways.
- You’ll add new varieties of fruits and vegetables into your routine
- You may find a new favorite fruit or vegetables you never new existed
- You’ll connect with your community
- You’ll experience vendors selling other handmade products, from bread, to dips, hot sauce, pastries, gluten-free products and healthy snacks
WHAT TO EXPECT
Forget your regular grocery list. When you shop a farmers market, it is about what is fresh, in season, and available right then and now. You’ll need to change your grocery shopping approach.
Because farmers markets provide local, in season fare, if you pass on something it may not be there next weekend. You can ask the vendor if they expect to have it in the following week. They will know what is on their farm that is ready to be picked.
New to the farmers market experience? To simplify the process, here are my nine tips to shopping the farmers market like a healthy chef.
9 TIPS TO HELP YOU SHOP THE FARMERS MARKET LIKE A PRO
1. Bring your own bags
Just like the supermarket, it is important to bring your own bags. Vendors will have plastic bag for delicate greens and herbs.
2. Set a budget and bring cash
It’s easy to spend all your money at one vendor when you see the beautiful bounty of produce. Have an idea of how much you want to spend, and bring cash. Not all vendors take credit cards.
3. Take a walk around before making any purchases
Always walk a lap before you make a purchase. You can see the trend of what people are selling and get idea of what is in season. You’ll also see what specialty vendors are selling, such as micro greens, edible flowers, local nuts and dried fruit.
4. Seek out items you can’t always get at your local grocery store
The farmers market is full of fresh, just picked produce. Try how different the carrots taste with the greens still attached. Pick up a new variety of apple. You can get your basics, but reach for something just a tad difference to bring in some variety and to take advantage of your farmer’s market experience.
5. Be mindful of what is in season
You are there for the freshest ingredients. By looking around, you’ll see what’s in season. Try it, buy it, and taste how much more flavor that produce has then when you buy it at other times in the year.
6. Taste test
Taste testing is a big party of the farmer’s market experience. That’s how you can discover the quality difference from produce you may by at the supermarket or out of season. Ask for a nibble of the peppery arugula, red grapes, green apples and so on. Most vendors have samples readily available.
7. Ask questions
See a fruit or vegetable you can’t identify? Ask what it is and how to prepare it. In most cases the vendors have tried everything at their stand. Connect with the community who is shopping the same stand. See what they are buying and ask how the plan to prepare it.
8. Try something new
The best part of attending a farmers market, whether it is in you neighborhood or one you are exploring while traveling, is all the new produce you’ll find. Challenge yourself to seek out one new item to try. Whether it’s a difference apple variety, a new lettuce green, or local spiced almonds. Break your routine and add something new to your palette.
9. Relax and enjoy
Have fun. Don’t be in a rush. Enjoy the people watching, the colors, the smells, and all aspects of the experience. Be in the moment and simply enjoying. Grocery shopping should be fun.
READY TO PLAN YOUR FARMERS MARKET VISIT
Here are some of my favorite farmers markets around the country:
- Laguna Beach Saturday Farmers Market in Laguna Beach, California
- Mariners Church Saturday Farmers Market in Irvine, California
- Santa Barbara Farmers Market in Santa Barbara, California
- Ojai Sunday Farmers Market in Ojai, California
- FRESHFARM Dupont Circle Sunday Market in Washington, DC
- Union Square Greenmarkets Farmers Markets in New York City
- Farmers Market in Twin Falls, Idaho
Comment below and share your favorite farmers market location.
IF YOU LIKE THIS ARTICLE, CHECK OUT THE FOLLOWING
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- Chef Tips From My Cooking Classes
- The Best Tips I Learned at a Healthy Culinary School
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Hi, I’m Whitney Aronoff, a Holistic Chef based in Laguna Beach, California. I graduated from the health supportive culinary school, The Natural Gourmet Institute, in New York City.
I work as a personal chef for Vegan, Vegetarian, Paleo & Gluten-Free clients, creating custom meal prep menus and recipes. I also teach customized cooking classes, with a focus on healthy, whole foods cooking.
My goal is to help people feel their best by sharing the delicious, healthy recipes I prepare weekly for my clients. I want you to have the energy to live your best life and fulfil your dreams. As we become more conscious and make more quality food choices, our body, mind, soul and the planet benefits. Cheers to your health.