Farmers markets can be a fantastic place to get your environmentally friendly shopping while supporting local growers and getting some of the tastiest produce around. But farmers markets can be intimidating, and there are often tricks to getting the best produce and keeping the farmers sweet. So when you visit the Fleet Farmers Market this weekend, bear these 4 things in mind.
Arriving Too Late
The market might open at 8am, but that doesn’t mean you should wait until 3pm when it will be ‘quieter’. The honest truth is that it’s quieter because a lot of the produces already gone. The freshet selection is found first thing in the morning, before it’s been picked over and exposed to heat and insects. On top of that – the main reason you want to shop at the Fleet farmers Market is also the reason you should get there early. Locally grown foods haven’t been treated with pesticides and preservatives, so it won’t last as long as the supermarket shelved foods. Getting there early means you get the best, freshest produce without losing out.
Was This Picked Fresh This Morning?
This might seem like a fairly harmless question – after all, you want to make sure your food is fresh right? But you won’t enjoy the answer. Of course the produce isn’t picked that morning. If you think about it, the Fleet Farmers Market opens at 8am. The farmer has been there for the last hour and a half setting up his booth. Before that, he has driven for an hour or two to get there, and hopefully before that he managed to brush his teeth and get dressed. That leaves virtually no time to pick 200 tomatoes, 100 pints of blueberries and 50 dozen eggs, among other things. Most farmers will have picked their produce a day or two beforehand, and loaded the produce into their cooled trucks the night before the market. And let’s face it, if you want much fresher than that, you’ll be better off growing it yourself!
Not Shopping Around
You may have your favourite stall at the Fleet Farmers Market, and you know that Bob sells the cheapest tomatoes around. But did you know that Sam, who has a fruit and veg stall just around the corner, also sells tomatoes, but at a better quality and a cheaper price? Farmers markets often support multiple stallholders that sell the same things, so it never hurts to do a lap of the market and check out the competition before you buy anything. Some stalls might sell eggs that have been laid in more humane conditions, you might be able to buy more of your shopping at one stall, or there might be a new and emerging business you want to support. Be a smart shopper and make sure you shop around before you buy.
It’s Not All About The Veggies
When you first think about a farmers stall at a market, you can be forgiven for thinking about plump vegetables and ripe, juicy fruits. And for a lot of people, getting their fruit and veg fresh and from the farmer is a prime reason for going to the market in the first place. But a lot of markets aren’t just about selling you your 5 a day. Most markets will have stalls for bread, wine, cheese, eggs, meat, preserves, poultry, crafts and a world of other locally sourced wares for sale. The mistake here is that you make a beeline for the fruit and veg stall, and then head straight home. Make a little extra time in your day and check out some of the other stalls, and see if you can’t get a better deal on some locally produced jam instead of mass produced supermarket brands.
So next time you fancy going along to the Fleet Farmers Market and seeing what you could pick up, remember our 4 tips to make the most out of your trip.