If you've ever had a peach from a roadside stand or a melon off the back of a pickup truck you know exactly what I mean when I tell you that those are the days I feel like I've received manna from heaven! There is nothing in this world like a fruit or vegetable straight from the farm to your table. There is something about it - you get it at the peak of ripeness as opposed to them picking it early and it ripening on a truck as it travels across many states to your grocery store or commissary. Several studies have shown that the average distance food travels from farm to plate is 1,500 miles. No wonder its fresher when the farmer just picked it!
I love the thought that I'm supporting a local farmer and the money I spend stays in my community. I love that eating fresh fruits and veggies is healthier for my family. But I won't sugar-coat the fact that it is more expensive than buying produce at my local commissary.
In honor of National Farmer's Market Week (Aug 5-11) I thought I would share a few (some lesser known) tips that will help you save a few bucks when you're visiting your local farmers' market.
1. Shop Late in the Day & in "Bad" Weather - if you've ever been a vendor at any sort of event you know that at the end of the day you're tired and you really don't want to have to pack back up your inventory and take it home. Offer a reasonable discounted price for the unsold items and see what sort of deal the farmer is willing to make. Farmer's markets typically are held on a reoccurring schedule. The farmers aren't afraid of a little rain, but the customers might be. You may find you'll have the ability to ask for a better deal on a rainy or extremely hot day that others wouldn't brave the "storm".
2. Buy Bulk - negotiate the purchase of a bushel of carrots or a case of plums. Most farmers' offerings will be seasonal. There is often a large amount of certain products at peak times. If you are willing to make an offer for a large amount you can save. Add value to your purchase by canning, freezing, or drying.
3. Buy at the Peak of the Season - the first and last produce of a season will always cost more. Learn when your favorite foods grow and shop at the peak of their season. To find a list of the cheapest fruits and veggies month-by-month click here.
4. Be a Frequent Shopper - just like receiving great customer service is memorable so is a repeat customer to a farmer. Many vendors offer the same products so flattering a vendor by buying from them again and again is definitely in your favor. They will likely reward you with extra savings, recipe tips, or free items.
5. Barter - we all have talents that can be put to good use. The nature of farming is that innate desire to be open to trade. Don't be afraid to offer the farmers a skill or service that you offer for which they can trade their goods.
Perhaps you're great at social media, website design, or tax preparation. Let's make a deal!
To find a Farmer's Market near you - http://www.localharvest.org/
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