Tips to Navigating a Farmers' Market

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When I was younger, I loved going to the farmers' market with my dad. Back then, I was less concerned about supporting local farmers and more focused on coming home with honey sticks and kettle corn. As I've gotten older though, the more I appreciate buying organic produce and G and I've made it part of our Sunday morning routine. Here are some tips for navigating your local farmers' market to make sure you're getting the most out of the experience.

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1. Don't shop when you're hungry. This could apply to almost any purchase decision, but it's especially relevant when buying food. There have been many instances where I'll fill my bag with unnecessary items that look really appealing while my stomach is growling, but lose their luster once I've been satiated. 

2. Do a lap before making any purchases. There are usually several vendors selling the same items, so before you buy the first pack of strawberries you see, check out the other stands, sample their products and compare prices. Once you narrow down your go-to vendors, the shopping process becomes very efficient.

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3. Go with a recipe in mind. Our local farmers' markets carry such a wide variety of produce, it can be a little overwhelming to decide what to buy on any given week. I like to plan a specific meal around one or two key ingredients that I know will be in season/available, so I don't end up buying produce that'll go to waste.

4. Ask questions. Most vendors love to talk about their products and you'll often get great tips on how to serve and store their items. For example, our citrus seller recently told me to start wiping down our grapefruits so there's no wetness, which can make them go bad faster.

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5. It's not just about the produce. We've discovered some of the best local tamales, rotisserie chicken, cheese makers, and florists through our local market. These small crafters are really passionate about their products and you can really see the difference in quality when compared to big chain stores.

6. Small bills. Some vendors accept debit/credit cards these days, but I still prefer to carry a set amount of money, usually in smaller ($1, $5) increments.

P.S. Images are from my Instagram, follow along @emilyschuman. And also, check out this fun tote bag DIY.