Hey there! I hope you had a great weekend.
Navigating the Farmers’ Market
One thing that is always on our weekend agenda is going to the farmers’ market. We have a great one that is very close to our apartment, and it is our usual Sunday spot. We even go during the winter months because it typically never gets that cold in Austin. Since it will be warm everywhere soon I thought it would be helpful to share some tips and tricks of the farmers’ market shopping trade.
I never used to go all that frequently. However, I had heard it tossed around all the time that they were fabulous as a way to eat healthy and fresh, but save money. Hmm…the first few times I went I came home to realize I spent a lot without too much to show for it. Like a drunken hangover, I had a very vague recollection of passing over $4 for a tomato! There were not clear signs, and it all just happened so far. Not very economical. Sure, it was a great tomato, but who can afford that kind of nonsense on a regular basis!
Farmers’ Markets are a great way to support local farmers and focus on eating what is seasonal. They can be a wonderful resource if you learn to navigate them the right way.
Take Shopping Bags & Recycle
None of the supermarkets in Austin give you shopping bags for free. As a result it has become a habit to have them available in the car. Most farm stands will not have them either. You want to have a few bags so it will make walking around that much easier. Save you jars and cartons. A lot of stands will offer a small discount for bringing them back so they can re-purpose them later. You save a little bit of cash and it is better for the environment to produce less waste.
Show Up Early
Like the movies, the early bird gets the seats with the perfect view, and the pick of the best market loot. Going early is wonderful because it is not too crowded yet, and you have the pick of whatever you want to buy. It is a little different than just your standard food shopping. Farmers will have to take their best guess as to how much they will sell. When it is gone…well, that is all folks.
When Scott and I have been unmotivated to go early there is typically a lack of parking, and a dearth of eggs. Do not let this happen to you during your farmers’ market experience.
Most farm stands offer them if they can. I always have to try all the Kombucha flavors because it will inform me as to which one I want to buy. Try things to make sure you even like them in the first place.
Limit Your Specialty Items
Enjoying samples helps you to inform you choices. I cannot stress enough how easy it is to go crazy with sauces, jams and the like. New drink choices! You name it. You kind of get swept up and want to try everything. So you do. SoCo was a natural gingerbeer we discovered recently.
Then you realize you can only go through so much sauerkraut before the expiration date creeps up. So it is either a scary binge or you end up tossing too much into the garbage. A little goes a long way.
Set a Spending Limit
Before all this goes down I would recommend setting a spending limit. Like any other shopping experience it is good to have a list ahead of time. Decide if you are going to have lunch, drinks or even a pony ride. That may be worth including in the budget.
I got an iced green tea recently that was totally overpriced. Make a plan, set a limit and put your wallet away once you reach it…
Do you always buy fresh flowers every day you go to a store? Yeah…I dd not think so. A new experience is not a license to go crazy.
Organic vs. Local
I think there is some wiggle room in organic produce here. Yes, I usually follow those dirt dozen lists that are floating around, but in this instance I think you can be a little more liberal. Something might not be organic, but it was raised locally so it did not travel thousands of miles to reach you. There is a value in the proximity so I worry about the “organic” label far less.
The Bulk Buy
The farmers market can be like Costco sometimes. There are merchants who will offer bulk amounts for a discount. Evaluate whether it is something you truly can use or even need.
I hope my suggestions for the farmers’ market are helpful. I am learning new ones all the time.
Have a wonderful Monday – hooray for the first day of June!
Questions of the Day: Do you go to the farmers’ market? What are some of the ways you navigate the terrain?
I always love hearing from you! If you have any questions please feel free to send me an email.