Currently, there are over 7,000 year-round farmer’s markets in the United States.
Farmer’s markets have gained popularity for several different reasons, the main being it is either the same price or cheaper than a grocery store. Here are some smart tips for shopping at Orange County’s farmer’s markets.
Orange County offers many different locations weekly. Know what days are held where. Mostly Farmers Markets are held Saturday or Sunday however, some locations offer days during the week. Also, each market differs some have just the local growers, while others have “special events” for example live bands, children’s bounce houses, I’ve even seen magicians. It can be a great place to spend the Saturday with the family or just to pick up your weekly produce.
2. Be Prepared:
It is important to know what it is you are going to the Farmers Market for, this way you avoid spending unnecessary time and money. Making a list and only taking a limited amount of money will help you stay within your budget. Another benefit of making a list allows proper planning with perishable items needing insulation. Although several of these Farmers Markets offer an ATM, others do not so plan to bring some cash because not all vendors take cards. If your schedule allows it to go towards the end of the day, vendors price reduce their items to “sell-out”. The only downfall to that is if you are looking for a certain item it and/or the vendor may have already left or sold out for the day.
Not all products will always be found, many items are seasonal and/or only grow well in certain climates. Take this into account if you are in a time crunch, grocery stores get shipments of their products which allows them with a wider selection of these “seasonal items”.
Producers have to be certified, organic growers. If organic is important don’t be afraid to ask them directly why they are not certified organic. Some farmers are not certified organic, but follow- or go beyond USDA organic protocols. It never hurts to investigate yourself and get your answers. Many eat only organic because of the pesticides, do not hesitate to ask what pesticides are used. Here is a helpful link for the navigation of pesticides in your produce.
5. Don’t Be Shy:
One of the major benefits of farmers’ markets is your ability to have face-to-face communication with the farmer, ask about how the produce was grown. Farmers Markets offer a rare opportunity in this fast-paced culture to know where your food came from. Also, find out what the farmer plans to bring next week so you can plan ahead. Learn as much as you can regarding growing habits and who you are buying from. It is going in your body, you deserve to know this information. If you encounter something new, don’t hesitate to ask how to prepare the item. Many vendors have recipe cards on hand, you just have to ask….