Although sellers at farmers markets generally have plastic bags, you won’t want to carry your produce around in grocery bags all morning. Bring a tote bag, preferably one that is comfortable to carry. If you enjoy attending the farmers market and want to make it a weekly thing, consider investing in something with wheels, especially if you’re going to be buying lots of heavy produce.
Also, bring small change. If you are able to make perfect change, or even just come close, your vendors will appreciate it!
Arriving at a farmers market can be overwhelming. The best way to counter that is to know ahead of time what to expect, and what you might want to guy. Figure out what kinds of things are in season. The first time you visit the market, walk around and get a good sense of what kind of vendors there are, before buying anything. If you make a purchase, ask the farmer who is selling to you what new things he will have next week. It’s harder to make a shopping list for a farmers market than it is for the grocery store, but having a sense of what you want to buy can nonetheless make your shopping experience much more enjoyable and productive.
But don’t plan too much!
That said, don’t just go, purchase what you need, and leave. The fun thing about a farmers market is in allowing yourself to be surprised by the offerings. Leave time (and space in the budget) to check out and purchase things you weren’t expecting to find. And don’t be afraid to try new things!
While some people may enjoy the bustle of a busy farmers market, for most, the crowds can ruin the experience. Go early in the morning for the best selection, or towards the end of the market, for potential deals. (Note that only some farmers markets offer discounts near closing. Figure out what is typical for the one near you.)
Know what to do with the food that you buy
The food that you buy at farmers markets will look much like it did when harvested. Root vegetables may still have dirt on them. Other vegetables may have unexpected leaves or stems. Find out whether these parts are edible. And if you are looking for deals, buying in bulk is a great way to go–providing that you know what to do with the extra food.
If you find an unusual food that you would like to try, but are unsure of how to prepare it, or if you would like to try something new with a familiar food, ask the sellers whether they have any tips.
Melissa Ko is the Managing Member of Covepoint Capital Advisors, LLC and serves as the Chief Investment Officer of its flagship, the Covepoint Emerging Markets Macro Fund. Please visit https://about.me/melissako, https://melissakoblog.wordpress.com/, http://melissakocovepoint.tumblr.com/, and http://www.slideshare.net/MelissaKo1 to learn more!