Healthy Children - October 2011


5 Tips for Shopping Your Farmers Market

By Michael Leathers

Ever been to your local farmers market? It’s a different experience from going to the grocery store, but it’s a great opportunity to get the freshest local food in your community. If you’re a newbie to the farmers market scene, Becky Smith, a registered dietitian at Memorial Medical Center, has a few tips to get you started.

Variety, Variety, Variety

The farmers market offers a great chance to try something new. And usually the more unusual the product—white or purple carrots, for instance—the better the price compared to your local grocer. A good strategy is to look around at all the booths first and decide what your best bargains are. Don’t buy your produce at the first booth you visit. Each booth will price their products a little differently.

Get to Know Your Vendors

Build relationships with the local farmers. This is your chance to talk to the people who actually grow the food you want to eat. Ask them about their crops. How were they grown? What pesticides were used? When were they picked? Farmers also can tell you when certain fruits and veggies will be in season. Now’s the time to get blueberries, for example, because they’re at their peak in June and July. You’ll be a more educated consumer because you’ll learn the growing seasons.

Ask for tips and Recipes

The people who grow food you’re buying are eating it, too. Ask them for ways that they prepare their produce. Some of them even have favorite recipes that they’d be willing to share with you. Farmers know their products. They can tell you the best ways to clean, store and prepare what you’re buying. Take advantage of their advice.

More Than Fruits and Veggies

You can buy meat—yes, meat—at the farmers market. Some vendors offer different kinds of meats and sausage, and the market can also be a good source for free-range chickens that haven’t been inhumanely caged or injected with growth hormones. Other vendors may have fresh honey, popcorn, wine, bakery goodies, or homemade bottles barbecue sauces and salad dressings. The market’s a great source for fresh herbs, too

Bring Extra Bags

You never know how many great deals you might find, so it’s a good idea to bring extra bags to take your bounty home. Also consider bringing a backpack or a small cart to help you carry your bargains.

This article was originally published in the July 2011 issue of Live Well magazine, a publication of Memorial Medical Center in Springfield, IL |