Farmers markets are a way for farmers to sell their products directly to the consumers. It is a great way for consumers to get fresh, locally grown food. Farmers markets can be easily found using the USDA Farmers Market Search and other directories. They are the perfect place to try new foods that are not commonly found in supermarkets and a great way to support local farmers. In addition, WIC and SNAP cards are accepted at most farmers markets.

Overwhelmed at the sight of overflowing baskets of fresh fruits and vegetables at your local farmers market? With a little bit of planning you can shop for your weekly meals and have fun all at the same time! Provided below are tips to make your trip to the market efficient and fun.

1. Know what’s fresh! Read up on what grows locally in your area in that given season and don’t be afraid to talk to the growers about what they have in store for the coming weeks.

2. Get there early…or late! Get to the farmers early if you want the best selection, as the best products always sell out first. Items that are popular but limited in supply are likely to sell out before the day is done. If you’re looking for the best deals, get to the market late. Growers are often willing to discount prices rather than carting left-over products back home.

3. Bring sturdy bags and small change! While many markets offer bags, they’re often too thin to withstand the pressure of all you’re going to buy. Bring reusable canvas bags to ensure everything makes it home in one piece. Don’t forget to hit the bank and get some coins to take with you. Most vendors can make change, but having exact change will make your purchase faster and easier!

4. Plan ahead! Once you know what you’re able to find at the farmers market, plan your meals accordingly. Get inspiration from your favorite cookbooks and sketch out a week’s worth of meals.

5. Be spontaneous! While planning is always a great idea, don’t be afraid to try something new and interesting. Leave some wiggle room in the budget for unexpected and enticing finds!

6. Buy in bulk! Buying in large quantities can often get you the best deal when an item is at its peak of harvest. Try out new and different recipes so nothing goes to waste, or experiment with freezing, canning, or drying to preserve an item’s seasonal freshness.

7. Go for the “whole” thing! Buying produce in its natural, unprocessed state will provide you with superior flavor. Taking the extra time to wash, peel, and cut fresh produce will be well worth the effort!

8. Ask for advice! Don’t be afraid to talk to the grower about the best ways to prepare a certain fruit or veggie that you’re interested in trying out. For the best result, ask specifically how they like to eat it.

9. Get some wheels! If you tend to buy a lot each week, invest in a wheeled wagon or cart to make your trip easier.

10. Simplicity is key! When cooking produce from a local farmers market, let the product’s natural flavor be the star of the show. Avoid over-seasoning and keep preparations simple.

Farmers markets provide a setting for people to get to know local farmers and others that share a passion for fresh food. It also provides a way to keep your money closer to your community. Think local and fresh this spring and summer, and you’re sure to enjoy healthy, nutrition-packed meals!

Author's Bio: 

Bonnie R. Giller helps chronic dieters and people with medical conditions like diabetes take back control so they can get the healthy body and life they want. She does this by creating a tailored solution that combines three essential ingredients: a healthy mindset, nutrition education and caring support. The result is they lose weight and keep it off without dieting and live a healthy life symptom free.

Bonnie is a Registered Dietitian (R.D.), Certified Dietitian-Nutritionist (CDN) and Certified Diabetes Educator (C.D.E.) with specialized training in Intuitive Eating. She offers programs for the chronic dieter to achieve long lasting weight loss, for people with diabetes to attain blood sugar control and prevent diabetes complications, and for those suffering with irritable bowel syndrome to identify their food triggers so they can enjoy a symptom free life. Bonnie also treats a variety of other medical conditions, and offers a nutrition program teaching young children how to make healthy food choices.

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