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Get the Most Out of Your Local Farmers’ Market

Get the Most Out of Your Local Farmers’ Market

Every Tuesday, I start the day out the same way: by shopping at my local farmers’ market. The Torrance Certified Farmers’ Market is not only the third largest farmers’ market in Los Angeles County, but it’s a great gathering place that gives me the feeling that I live in a small town. Each week I look forward to seeing both my farmer friends and my friends from throughout the community.

And because I live in Los Angeles County, it’s also one of the easiest ways for me to support locally grown fruits and vegetables and to develop a relationship with the wonderful people who grow my food.

Shopping at the local farmers’ market is something that most people can do because the USDA estimates that there are over 4,600 farmers’ markets throughout the United States and the numbers just keep increasing. That means there’s bound to be a market in your area at least one day of the week.

If you haven’t yet shopped at a farmers’ market, you might be wondering what the big deal is. The biggest benefit to shopping at a farmers’ market is that you get the freshest produce available. Often, farmers pick their fruit or vegetables just a day, or even hours, before the market. Not only does this make the produce taste better, it is better for you because it does not lose any vitamins or minerals sitting in a warehouse or traveling thousands of miles. You will also find dozens of different fruit and vegetable varieties at a single market, compared to the two or three varieties typically found at most grocery stores.

I have also learned that there are some easy and practical things I can do to make the shopping experience even more enjoyable. I thought I’d share these tips to help you make the most out of your shopping experience:

  • Before buying, walk around first and check out all the stands to compare selection, quality and price.
  • To avoid having to dig for your money while loaded down with packages, bring lots of change and small bills and keep it in your pocket or shopping bag.
  • Remember: bags full of produce can get heavy. You might want to consider bringing your own large, canvas shopping bag or shopping cart.
  • Bring a hard container or box to keep your delicate berries, tomatoes, or peaches from being crushed.
  • Take advantage of the fact that this is your weekly hometown market and get to know the growers. Don’t hesitate to ask questions. They are the best sources for identifying the different varieties, explaining how they are grown, and for help on preparing and storing their foods.

If you aren’t a regular farmers’ market shopper but are thinking you’d like to be, the USDA also has a page where you can search for the market nearest you. Another great resource for finding local farmers’ markets is Local Harvest.

For those in California, here’s a list of certified farmers’ markets provided by the California Federation of Farmers’ Markets. A certified farmers’ market is the “real deal,” meaning that only farmers who grow what they are certified to grow there can sell there.

Related:
10 Mistakes to Avoid at the Farmers’ Market
4 Tips for Eating Organic on a Budget

Read more: Conscious Consumer, Do Good, Food, Make a Difference, Nature, , , ,

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Judi Gerber

Judi Gerber is a University of California Master Gardener with a certificate in Horticultural Therapy. She writes about sustainable farming, local foods, and organic gardening for multiple magazines. Her book Farming in Torrance and the South Bay was released in September 2008.

53 comments

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2:10AM PST on Nov 17, 2013

Love Our Farmers' Markets. Such a Treat! Thanks for Sharing.

2:45PM PDT on Sep 2, 2012

good advice

3:08AM PDT on Aug 26, 2012

Thank you

2:21PM PDT on Oct 30, 2011

thanks

4:56PM PDT on Aug 8, 2011

Love our farmers markets.

4:06PM PDT on Jun 4, 2011

great tips!

7:04AM PDT on May 13, 2011

I hope enough of the good, of course.

8:10PM PDT on May 11, 2011

Love farmer's market! Makes you feel good...
Thanks for posting!

6:31PM PDT on May 11, 2011

Thanks. There are several farmers' markets in my area and also a local co-op that sells only organic.

12:31PM PDT on May 11, 2011

thank you!

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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
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