As the weather warms up, open-air markets prepare for another season. The idea of visiting your local farmers market may appeal to you more given the current COVID-19 environment, especially now that some offer advanced online ordering and contactless pickup.
Shopping locally not only helps boost your local economy but also offers the opportunity to enjoy delicious foods grown and raised close to home. While you pack your reusable bags for the trip, keep the following tips in mind.
Budget for your trip. Farmers markets offer more than locally-grown greens, fresh fruits and free-range meats. One may discover a variety of baked goods, homemade granolas, honeys, syrups and household supplies. While many sellers take credit cards via phone apps, some still accept only cash, so be sure to have enough on hand.
Survey the landscape. Shopping at a farmers market isn’t quite the same as going to the grocery store. At the latter, you may already be familiar with the layout, and you often go in knowing what you will buy. A market may vary week to week or month to month depending on food availability from vendors. During your first visit, take some time to survey what is for sale, compare prices, quantities and then shop.
Know what’s in season. Fruits and vegetables grow throughout the country at different times of the year. Blueberries, for example, may come into season in Florida a few months before they’re ready to be picked in Virginia. If you see produce not typically available in your area at the present time for sale, be aware of its origin and freshness. You can consult with a local or regional agricultural office for information on your state and county’s farming schedules.
Remember, looks aren’t everything. If you see “ugly” veggies and fruits on the stands, it doesn’t mean they are spoiled. Grocery stores tend to stock and display produce that looks uniform and attractive. The lumpy and misshapen “misfits” you find at farmers markets are no less nutritious and may save you some money.
Farmers markets are typically set up outdoors, which is great for COVID-19. However, you’ll still want to make sure to keep your distance from others. Also, make sure to wear your face mask the entire time.
Learn more about the nutrition services we offer at Bon Secours.