5 Tips for Shopping at Farmers Markets

A favored activity of our RV lifestyle is checking out local happenings including farmers markets.

Galt Farmers Market near Lodi, California © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Galt Farmers Market near Lodi, California © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Where else can you pick up fresh, locally grown fruits and vegetables of the area, look through local artists’ work, sample amazing food, talk with the locals, and hear live music all at once?

Farmers markets have fruits and vegetables at the peak of the growing season. This means produce is at its freshest and tastes the best. The food is typically grown in the area, not thousands of miles away or another country. Because it was grown locally, there is a good chance that the apple or grapes you buy from the farmer was picked a few days ago.

Tasting fresh local produce at each of your RV destinations is also one of the best ways to get to know the places you travel.

One of the best thing about farmers’ markets is that they’re populated by local farmers, vendors, and artists, which means that not only are you buying fresh foods, but you’re also helping the local economy. Remember that the vast majority of vendors are sole proprietors, farmers, and local craftspeople who need your support to survive.

Galt Farmers Market near Lodi, California © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Galt Farmers Market near Lodi, California © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

However, finding the best produce at farmers’ markets around the country isn’t always easy. Follow these five tips for finding the best products at the next farmers market you visit.

1. Don’t Go at Peak Times

The best time to head to a farmers market depends on how you like to shop and what you plan to buy. It’s best to head to a farmers’ market early or late, when it’s typically less crowded. The early morning hours offer the absolute freshest produce and the best selection.  On the other hand, late arrivals at the farmers’ market usually get the best deals from farmers who are trying to liquidate produce and other products. These less-common times to visit also means more opportunity to talk with the farmers about what to buy.

2. Eat Seasonally & Research Before You Go

By shopping at the local farmers market, you will eat seasonally, fresh, and ripe.

Certain fruits and vegetables are tastier at different times of year. Apples are best in the late summer and fall, while avocados and blueberries are tastiest in the summer months. Broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbage, and cauliflower are all best in the winter months, and some veggies, like carrots and collard greens, are harvested year-round.

Galt Farmers Market near Lodi, California © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Galt Farmers Market near Lodi, California © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

3. Be Prepared: Bring Cash and Reusable Bags

Make the purchasing process easier on yourself and the farmers by coming prepared.

Many farmers’ markets and individual vendors are still cash-only. It’s the easiest way to ensure that you have the funds you need to buy what you want and not overspend. Put yourself on a budget, but bring a few extra bucks just in case.

Additionally, remember to bring your reusable shopping bags, because many vendors don’t bring their own bags to give away.

4. Ask Questions

Vendors are knowledgeable about the products they sell. Don’t be afraid to ask questions about how the food was grown, how to store something, or how to prepare a new food you’d like to try. You’ll find that most vendors are more than happy to answer your questions. They know that the more confident you feel about their products, the more likely you will make a purchase.

On market day, farmers love to share their secrets. First among them are tips on how to prepare fresh offerings, so if you need to know what to do with kohlrabi or are looking for something to bump up your tomato salsa, just ask.

Galt Farmers Market near Lodi, California © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Galt Farmers Market near Lodi, California © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

5. Make a Day of It

Depending on the size of the market, plan at least an hour or two to properly peruse the grounds. It’s fun to relax and enjoy the local culture and atmosphere. Markets often have great live music, rallies, and tons of “street food” to try too.

Final Word

Shopping at local farmers markets is one way to give back to the communities you visit in your RV. Purchasing from local farmers and makers allows them to continue providing the tasty, fresh products you love.

What other tips do you have for shopping at farmers’ markets?

Worth Pondering…

Cultivators of the earth are the most virtuous and independent citizens.

—Thomas Jefferson

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