10 Mistakes to Avoid at the Farmers’ Market

By EcoSalon via DivineCaroline

If you havenít spent much time at farmersí markets, you may not know that they can be a bit intimidating. Locals always know exactly where to go and what to buy, and seem to possess some kind of secret, cult-like knowledge of seasonal favorites and exclusive deals.

Howís a farmersí market newbie supposed to sort through the piles of exotic vegetables without feeling like a trespasser?

The reality is this: farmersí market fans can indeed be fanatical (I know I am), but the farmers themselves couldnít be more friendly and welcoming. Avoiding these ten mistakes will help you fit in at the market and get the most out of being a locavore.

1. Arriving Too Late
Showing up in the late morning means big crowds and picked over produce. Beat the rush by going early and getting the best of the season. Morning light is also best for snapping pictures, if youíre into that sort of thing.

2. Forgetting to BYOB (Bring Your Own Bags!)
Most farmersí markets provide small plastic bags for your purchases (in eco-friendly San Francisco, plastic has been banned and most vendors offer paper or compostable BioBags for a small price), but you definitely want to have a larger bag to carry your bounty or youíll be heading home prematurely.

3. Buying Only What You Know
One of the advantages of shopping at a farmersí market is that you get the best of the season from local farmers, which is likely to be different from your normal grocery store purchases. Thereís nothing wrong with buying foods you know you like, but try to be adventurous with new produce. You may be pleasantly surprised.

4. Not Asking Questions
You may not know everything there is to know about seasonal vegetables, but the farmers who grow them certainly do. Walk up to each vendor with a smile and ask them what their favorites are this week. If youíve never cooked with them before, ask for a sample recipe or serving suggestions. You can always search recipes online when you get home, so donít feel like you need to know exactly how youíre going to prepare something before buying it.

5. Forgetting Cash
Farmersí market veterans know better than to show up at the market without cash in our wallets. Most farmers do not accept credit cards and the line at the local ATM machine is a wait you could live without. Pick up some cash on your way to avoid the headache.

6. Focus on Fruit
Fruit is great, but it will also put a hefty dent in your wallet. If you fear farmersí markets because of the price, focus your attention on vegetables. Veggies are cheaper and when picked fresh and in season, they can be almost as sweet as candy.

7. Forgetting Meat and Dairy
Farmersí markets are the best places to find farmers from sustainable farms with eco-friendly practices. Buy your eggs, fish, milk, cheese, and meat products from local producers to reduce environmental impact.

8. Bringing Pets
Itís illegal to bring dogs to farmersí markets in California, but each state has its own policies. Check your local market rules before bringing your furry friend along on your shopping trip.

9. Trying to Negotiate
Farmersí markets are not flea markets, and haggling is generally not part of the etiquette. Sometimes very late in the day, farmers will offer discounts, but itís generally best practice to respect the set prices. Farmers work harder than most of us can imagine, and their asking prices are more than fair.

10. Not Shopping Around
Samples are commonplace at farmersí markets and allow you to find the best produce to match your taste. Nothing is worse than buying a basket of strawberries, then finding better ones two stands away. Shop around a bit before deciding on the best purchases. You know youíve picked the right stuff if you can barely get it home without eating it all.

148 comments

Amanda Reynolds
Amanda Reynolds3 years ago

I love farmers markets! I wish my town had more.

Sierra Gamber
Sierra Gamber3 years ago

I agree always try new foods. i remember when i was younger and i was at a farmers market and the farmer had combined to trees (similar to how they create sour oranges) and it was called a doughnut peach. It was completely white and tasted like you were eating cotton candy. But they were relatively cheap and so yummy.

Sierra Gamber
Sierra Gamber3 years ago

I agree always try new foods. i remember when i was younger and i was at a farmers market and the farmer had combined to trees (similar to how they create sour oranges) and it was called a doughnut peach. It was completely white and tasted like you were eating cotton candy. But they were relatively cheap and so yummy.

Sierra Gamber
Sierra Gamber3 years ago

I agree always try new foods. i remember when i was younger and i was at a farmers market and the farmer had combined to trees (similar to how they create sour oranges) and it was called a doughnut peach. It was completely white and tasted like you were eating cotton candy. But they were relatively cheap and so yummy.

Norma V.
Norma Villarreal3 years ago

Good suggestions as I am just learning to scout around the local farmers markets.

John S.
Past Member 3 years ago

Thanks.

Michele Wilkinson

Thank you

J.L. A.
JL A.3 years ago

good tips

Merelen Knitter
Merelen Knitter3 years ago

I accidentally discovered that getting to the farmers market at the end may lead to better deals and free veggies that the sellers don't want to take home. Sure, things are more picked over, but since I plan meals around what I can get there, it works out.

Emily Drew
Emily Drew3 years ago

Totally true! Thank you!