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My Market Routine

Shopping at the farmers market takes work and a little practice, but the reasons why we love it far outweigh any challenges. To make the market experience as smooth as possible, we've put together this quick list.

1. Preparation

Be ready for your trip with the things you need before you arrive. The market is very BYO (bring your own). Bring some cash, a few reusable grocery bags, and a list of items you actually need to purchase. Vendors will exchange the cartons, baskets, and or bottles you bought last time so make a habit of bringing those, too.

Many vendors take credit card now, but it's often faster to pay in cash and there are no card fees for you or them. 

2. Time

Leave plenty of time for travel, shopping, and being human. As with all good activities, it's better to have more time, not less. Parking isn't always easy and crowds in the parking lot or the narrow market stalls can turn your 'quick-trip' into an excursion.

When you strike up a conversation with an old friend or new acquaintance, you'll want to have a few extra minutes to chat.

3. Attitude

Farmers markets are places of direct interaction with vendors and fellow shoppers. Being happy, conversational, and patient will score points with vendors who get to know you over time. They'll help you pick the best produce and may give a discount if you buy a little more.

Experienced shoppers are key to getting the insight on what you're looking for, whether that's which vendor has the best produce or the lowest prices.

4. Appetite

Today's markets can fill you up. Many have hot food vendors, coffee or juice, and delicious pastries. Before and after Covid times, the fruit and veggie stands often offer free samples of what's fresh and ripe this week. If you arrive on an empty stomach, grab a quick bite so you're not a grouch and you don't overbuy what you need at the produce stands.

If time allows, snack on your croissant while strolling the market and checking out this week's goodies before you start shopping.

5. Curiosity

After a few trips it's easy to get into a rhythm and skip over the booths you don't shop at each week. However, it's important to take stock of what's available on each visit because the produce that's in season is always changing and new vendors will swap out with old ones. Save a little time, and cash, to try a new place or buy some of those mandarins that are only around for a few more weeks.

We hope this helps on your next farmers market visit. If you don't know where or when the next market is in your area, check out the USDA farmers market directory for more information.

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