It’s been a blast teaching Shop Like a Pro at a Farmers’ Market this year. I’m hosting a class this weekend, and then will take a break until autumn. If you can’t attend, I’d love your help in spreading the word on Facebook or Twitter. Use this link: http://skl.sh/KRGQ9W
At my class, I walk through the basics of local food including what’s in season, how to choose the best products (and keep them fresh when you get home), and simple recipes that anyone can prepare.
Here are some basic tips for your next trip to the market:
First thing to do is take a lap around the market to scope out the scene. Notice what’s popular, which stand has the best goods, and compare prices.
Enjoy yourself. Farmers markets are like little state fairs, so take your time if you can.
Bring your own reusable bags. Stuffing glorious fresh produce into plastic bags just feels wrong.
Try something new. Your average grocery store carries a soul-crushingly meager variety of produce. Try a purple heirloom tomato, or a pint of ground cherries. A daikon radish, or a duck breast.
Ask questions and seek advice. “How are these two eggplants different?” “How long will this last in my refrigerator?” “What do you feed the cows?” I’ve only met one produce stand worker who was standoffish. I gave him another chance the next week, and now I simply shop at a different stand.
Unless you are buying in bulk, don’t be a jerk about the price of the produce, which can sometimes be slightly higher than at your supermarket. These farmers are working harder than you can even imagine. Consider yourself lucky to have a direct pipeline to real food that supports the local economy.
If you buy only one thing, make it a dozen farm fresh eggs with those fiery-orange yolks. Trust me on this one.