My family and I once planned a trip where we structured our travels around a simple question—which town is having its market day today? The culture of farmer’s markets is a defining symbol of summer bounty and community.
Getting into a weekly farmer’s market habit—or, if you’re lucky, visiting multiple markets each week—is a worthwhile venture. It organizes your week and your eating habits around an infusion of fresh, seasonal, local produce from people who care deeply about growing and sharing quality food. Does it get any better than that?
After years of enjoying farmer’s markets near my home outside Boston, I’ve learned a few things about how to maximize the pleasure of an afternoon at the farmer’s market.
1. Bring Small Bills
Farmers will appreciate the ease, and you will appreciate the speed, of having exact change—or close to it—for payment. Some farmers accept credit cards, but markets tend to be a cash business, so save yourself frustration and delay by coming prepared with some ones and fives.
2. BYOB (Bring Your Own Bag)
Not only does bringing your own bag spare farmers the expense of providing bags for purchases that might be as small as two cucumbers, it also doubles down on the environmental stewardship you’re showing by visiting the market in the first place.
3. Stay Hydrated and Sun-Protected
You know the saying, “Don’t go to the grocery store hungry?” At the farmer’s market, it’s thirst you should watch out for. Market days can be blazingly hot, especially if the stalls are set up on asphalt surfaces. Protect yourself by having a cold drink tucked into your bag, and a sun hat and sunscreen on your body.
4. Try Something New-to-You
At the farmer’s market, you might see some new-to-you foods, like kohlrabi, sunchokes, or fennel. Ask the farmer how these foods are prepared, and take a few home to try. Worst case, you’ll have a funny story to tell about that weird turnip salad you tried. Best case, your kohlrabi slaw will be the hit of every summer picnic you attend this year!
5. Say Hello—and Thank You
The folks behind the register at your farmer’s market are hard workers. When they’re not selling their wares, they’re planting them, tending to them, harvesting them, and packing them up for your enjoyment. It’s a profoundly connecting moment when you select some of their tasty goods to bring home to your family—seize it by greeting the farmer, asking her how her day is going and thanking her for her hard, delicious work.