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farmers market produceHave you ever been to your local farmers’ market?  There are plenty of farmers’ markets in my area; some big, some small and some in some rather unique locations. For the longest time, farmers’ markets intimated me a good bit. I’m not a produce expert by any means. I’ve walked past some stands and am more than willing to admit that I have seen some pieces of produce that I had absolutely no idea what they were. Keep in mind, I do have a decent background in nutrition and well, I figured I’d at least by able to identify the various items at the farmers’ market. Perhaps that’s why I stuck to the grocery store produce aisle for so long. At least everything is labeled there, right?

After talking with more and more people or reading on blogs about how much people enjoy the farmers’ market. I decided to give it a go again. I’ve talked to many people and gathered a list of tips. I put these tips to test and guess what? The farmers’ market instantly became an enjoyable experience and wasn’t too bad on my wallet either.

Are you looking for the best selection of produce? You may want to show up as early as possible. You’ll have a lot more options. However, don’t just run to the first stand you see to make all of your purchases. Take a few moments to browse. See who has the best selections and the best prices before settling.

Now to the complete opposite of showing up early, arrive late. This is perfect it you are a bargain hunter, like me. Sure you might not have tons and tons of items to choose from, but you should expect some deep discounts. A lot of times, the farmers do not want to have to lug unwanted produce home with them, so the customer wins.

Fresh and organic vegetables at farmers marketGo ahead and give some of the products a try. While the cashiers and stock boys at the grocery store may look at you funny if you give an item a taste in store, the vendors at the farmer’s market will actually encourage a little nibbling here and there. Go ahead and try a berry or two to see if it’s sweet enough for your liking or that delicious treat you want to make with them.

Remember earlier when I said there were plenty of things at farmers’ markets that I have never heard of before? I was told to use this experience as a learning experience. Learn to try new things! Don’t hesitate to ask. Ask the vendor how to prepare the food and any tips or tricks they may have for preparing the food. Who knows? Maybe you’ll find a new favorite food.

If you’ve been visiting the farmers’ market for a few weeks now, you’ve probably come to really like certain vendors and items available. It is important to remember to get them while they are hot. A harvest won’t last forever and the farmers’ market is likely to not go on all year along. The other thing to remember is that grocery store produce is often harvested weeks before it arrives at your local store. Produce at the farmers’ market is likely only days old. This means it will last much longer!

Treat the farmers’ market like you would any new experience, go ahead and explore. You may be surprised at what you find and enjoy!