(NaturalNews) Farmer`s market season is almost upon us. Some in North America have had markets in their area open already while others will have them opening in the next few weeks. Those who enjoy healthy, natural, direct-from-the-grower food know that their local farmer`s market is the best place to get locally-grown produce.
There are some things to know if you`re a newbie to the farmer`s market, though. Here are some simple tips to ensure that you have the best experience possible and get the best food you can find.
DO arrive early - get there soon after the market opens to be sure to see what the best booths have to offer and to avoid the crowds. Most farmer`s market customers arrive in the mid-morning before lunch and by then, the offerings have been well-picked over.
DO NOT buy the first thing you see, but instead walk the booths first. See what everyone has to offer, ask your questions, and then make purchase decisions. One tomato is not always as good as the next. Some may be in better shape or ripeness; some may be a sweeter variety; and some may not be organically grown.
DO offer trades to the farmers at the market. While most will not negotiate on price (and it`s insulting to try to haggle them, as they work hard), many are receptive to trades. If you have a surplus of homemade pickles from last year, bring some with you and offer to trade for something. If you grow an unusual variety of squash, there may be someone willing to try it and trade for seeds. Farmers are almost always experienced barterers, so if you have something compelling, you may have a trade.
DO NOT bring credit cards or checkbooks as most of the sellers at these markets prefer cash or trade. Have the cash in your pocket and be ready to buy when you arrive. Most of the sellers at the farmer`s market are not going to accept credit cards and many are leery of checks.
DO ask questions - especially about new things you haven`t seen before. Ask what type of corn you`re looking at, question whether they`ve been grown organically, and always be interested in trying something new.
DO NOT forget your own bags as this not only helps the planet, but it also saves the farmer`s some money as they won`t have to buy or transport bags for you. A wagon or cart is another bonus to help you carry all the great stuff you`ll find.
DO find out where the farmer is located and what else they have to offer that they didn`t bring. Your lettuce and tomato purchase today may be coming from a sustainable farm that also offers meats, dairy, and more.
DO have fun and socialize at the farmer`s market. There is always more going on than just booths with stuff for sale. There are a lot of other things around, including other patrons, their pets and children, people selling other alternative and hand-crafted goods, etc. Get to know who`s in your area and what they`re doing. The more you buy local (food or otherwise), the better!
The goal of supporting your local farmer`s market is not just to get great food, but to support your local economy. Organic, local foods are healthy, taste better, and are a big part of a more sustainable lifestyle for all of us.
Resources: The Online Farmer`s Market by Aaron Turpen, Aarons EnvironMental Corner on finding local farmer`s markets and outlets with FarmersOnlineMarket.net.
VeggieTrader - a free, online resource for finding trading partners for produce and other locally-grown goods.
Aaron Turpen is a professional writer living in Wyoming in the USA. His blogs cover organic/sustainable living and environmental considerations (AaronsEnvironMental.com) and the science debunking mainstream medical and proving alternatives (HiddenHealthScience.com).