Buying Fresh and Local Fruits and Vegetables in the South County
I get so excited when I attend a farmers market, everything seems so fresh and delicious, I taste all
the samples I can, wandering up and down the aisles picking out the sweetest fruits and the freshest
vegetables I can. Unfortunately, I invariably get home and think, “Why did I buy that and now what do I
do with it?”
First of all, shopping at farmers markets is the best way to eat local; something I feel we should all try to
do more often. Usually the grower or the grower’s representative is there and can give you advice on
how to prepare and/or cook with their products. By asking them how they like to eat their products, you
will usually get some great ideas.
Here is my advice for visiting a farmers market:
- Know what is in season:
Most of the farmer’s market websites that I have seen have information about the seasonality in your area. Here are three excellent sources that I use in my area:
2. Plan ahead:
What are you going to make with these wonderful ingredients? How long will they stay fresh?
How will you store them when you get them home? Again, most farmers’ markets websites have recipes that range from very simple to quite complex and are excellent sources for ideas. If you want the best quality, go early in the day. If you want the best bargain, go later in the day.
Bring your own bags and a cooler if you plan on buying fish or meat so that you don’t have to rush around and hope your proteins are still good by the time you get them home.
3. Just like grocery shopping, don’t go hungry. You will be more apt to impulse buy if you haven’t had anything to eat before you go.
4. Try something new, ask questions about it. Remember that not all food at a farmers market has to be organic or sustainable, if that is important to you, ask the farmer about it.
Most of all have a good time! Some markets can get quite crowded and hot during the summer months.
Be aware of the weather, stay hydrated and wear sun screen as there is usually not much shade
provided other than the vendor booths themselves. Getting to know the farmers that produce the food
you are buying is one of the best parts of your experience. By buying fresh, local and in season you are
doing yourself and your community a good deed!
Just In Thyme ventures out to our local Farmer’s Markets to get the most accurate and up to date
information on what’s in season when planning our wedding and private party menus. If there is one
thing that we have learned in planning our multi-cultural menus, it is that there are always changes in
agriculture. The amount of water available that year affects when the product will be available. Be open
to change and flexibility and don’t be afraid to try something new and distinct!