Looking for something fun and fresh to do this weekend? Your local farmers’ market has a lot to offer: produce that’s so fresh it’s like you picked it yourself, homemade sweet and savory foods, baked goods, cut flowers, hot coffee and, of course, lots of samples. It’s a beautiful way to spend a morning on your own or with that person you’ve been texting all week.
First, you’ll want to pick a market. If you’re lucky enough to live in (or be visiting) Boston, you can check out Haymarket. In Chicago, Green City Market is the jewel of Lincoln Park. Take a look at a list of markets in California here. For the farmers’ market in your area, check out LocalHarvest.org.
Once you’ve chosen your destination, a few simple steps can help you to make the most of your day at the market.
- Go early. If you can do it, get to the market early. You’ll enjoy the quiet before the crowds, the best samples and even some time to talk with the vendors before they get really busy. There’s nothing like a hot cup of coffee, first thing in the morning as you stroll along at the farmers’ market.
- Bring your bags. Bring a few baskets and bags for all the goods you’ll purchase. If you have an insulated bag for cold items like cheese or fresh-made juices, bring it along. If not, no worries: just throw some ice cubes in a Ziploc® bag for DIY cool insulation.
- Carry cash. These days, most vendors can easily scan your debit card on an iPhone but, to speed things up, have some small bills handy. You can also get great deals this way: “I’ve got a five, how many strawberries can I get for that, please?”
- Thank the vendors. Yes, you read that right. Whether you buy something or not from a vendor, if you spend time in his or her booth, why not offer a “thank you” as you move along? It’s good form and may be good karma, too.
- Sample, sample, sample. How else will you know if that homemade pumpkin bread is as good as it looks?
- Buy something you’ve never tried. Now is your chance to try a vegetable or fruit for the first time. If you’ve been wondering what all the fuss is about kale or burdock, you’re going to get the freshest (and probably least expensive) version at a farmers’ market.
- Pick up some gifts. You know that person on your list who has it all? Grab some homemade preserves and tuck them away for his next dinner party. If you’ve been meaning to bring something special to a friend or family member, the farmers’ market is a perfect place to find it.
- Dress up, farm style. Why not? Put on a fancy dress or straw hat and get into the swing of things. After all, it’s a farmers’ market, so you can’t really go wrong.
Enjoy yourself and don’t forget to try the kale!
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