To Market, To Market to Buy a Fat Zucchini!

Well, we did get a zucchini at the market this past week but it was a small one. Great for cutting up and tossing in the spaghetti sauce though. A nice sneaky way to add one more veggie to the kids' meal. :) Anyways, yes, the last couple of weeks we have gone to our local farmer's market to get some fresh fruit and veggies. Here are a few tips for shopping at your local farmer's market (assuming you have one!):
1. Do not buy the first item you see even if it is something you want or had already planned to get. Take the time to walk around and compare prices. They will be different! It's not like at your local supermarket where there is only one price for the produce you want. You'll be happy to get your cucumbers for 3/$1 instead of a $1 each! Boy, was I glad I decided to wait and look around first!
2. If you go towards the middle/end of their selling time the farmers may be more likely to start reducing their prices because it's less for them to cart home.
3. The point (at least for me) of shopping at a farmer's market is to get food that is pesticide/fungicide free. Make sure you ask. Don't assume.  Also, just because you're feeling healthy simply because you're at a farmer's market doesn't mean that all the food there is healthy! (stay away from the fudge!) :) If I want to buy cheaper food with pesticides on it I will go to my local grocery store. I know I'm going to pay a little more for pesticide free food but it's worth it! (trust me, I know the ouch of a tight food budget so yes, sometimes I buy food that has been sprayed with pesticides, but one thing I do to remove some of that is to wash my fruit/veggies in a water/peroxide bath.)
4. Take the time to inspect the produce. Unfortunately, last week I picked a basket of a bunch of zucchinis and when I got home, one was rotted out. Yuck! This past week I inspected each piece of summer squash before I bought the basket of it. Don't feel bad about this! You would do the same thing at the grocery store (hopefully) if you were picking it out of a big bin. Just because it's already in a little container doesn't mean you can't check them out individually.
5. Pick your own. (Container that is). Here I'm referring to the actual basket of premeasured fruit that they have set out. Not all will have the same amount in them. If they're all priced the same (which they probably are), get the one with the most fruit or vegetables in it! For that matter, do the same with your bag of onions or potatoes at the grocery store. Heft your two little sacks right on over to the scale and pick the one that weighs the most. :) The price doesn't change on these items that are not sold by the pound but the amount of food you get does!
6. Do not feel pressured.  Yah, yah, sure, they're offering a bunch of samples to you and your kids, but if you start buying stuff you don't need or want just because you feel bad, you are defeating the purpose of buying from a farmer's market. The point is to save money on healthier food.
7. Don't forget you can buy it now and freeze it for the winter. (Oh, that's right...note to self). :)
8. Feel free to ask if the food is local. I bought some peaches last week and when I got home, hmmm...they had a sticker with a bar code on it that said "Georgia Peach." Duh! I guess they wouldn't be ready in my state but still, I was expecting my food to be local.
9. Have fun!

Around here, summer's pretty short and some of my favorite memories come winter will probably be taking the kids to the farmer's market, picking from our own raspberry patch (which we will be enjoying homemade jam in the winter thanks to C1 faithfully picking and Adam making the jam) and picking from our own garden (thank you Rob and Dana for sharing your land with us!!!)   And, yep, I know, doing this kind of stuff is more time consuming than heading to Meijer but I think the pay off will be great! We'll be eating healthier and making great memories along the way!

There is a lot more that can be said about supporting local farms. However, my husband knows more about that than me so maybe I'll encourage him to do a post about that.

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