Talk About Your Local Color!


May Farmers MarketFor the month of May it was undeniably purple!

I’ve still been enjoying my bi-weekly visits to the local farmers’ market and loving how simple a start it makes menu-setting for my weeks. If I had to state a downside, the only one I can think of is that if our plans get juggled and we push a day or two off, sometimes the produce just doesn’t last long enough! But, hey, it’s a smallish price to pay for just-picked goodness.

I’m even starting to make friends with a couple of the farmers!

As spring began we were excited to see more farmers showing up to the market and were looking forward to the variety the season would bring. I always seem to find new or uncommon things to try each time.

One week in particular I brought home tart plums (that we paired with boneless pork chops), purple beans that turn green when you cook them (well, mostly green, there was still a little bit of a brown tinge to it), and Norwegian purple potatoes (these are the ones with purple skin and white flesh, unlike the Peruvian purples that have purple flesh and skin–those I got later in the month). The following trip yielded some red noodle beans about a foot long, each, as well as some beautiful Japanese eggplant.

Of course it wasn’t all purple–there was plenty of greens, yellows and reds to be found.

What’s catching your eye at the market–farmer or otherwise–this season?

Farmer’s Market Etiquette


Now that the dust has settled from the holidays, it’s time to get back to routines–both old and a few new.

We moved just before Christmas and, among other things, our new location puts us within 5 minutes of a local Farmer’s Market–possibly the best in town–so one of my new habits, this year, is to start shopping there for produce before heading to the grocery store for the rest.

Starting next weekend.

But as I think about it more, some questions come to mind. Being a researcher by habit and knowing that some of the best sources may be just outside the blog’s door, I thought I’d muse here and get what feedback I could before my first foray.

Bags: Bring your own, sure, but what kind?

I’ve been out to the farmer’s market location later in the day as folks were packing up and I’ve noticed some leaving with plastic bags, but most seem to favor canvas or some other reusable type. What I wonder, though, is if sellers get perturbed (think less of you or even charge more) if you’re reusable shopping bag screams the name of a grocery chain?

Q1: Have you ever been up-sold or treated differently based on the bag you carried?

Cash: How much and what denominations?

Obviously, cash is the norm for a farmer’s market. Thing is, I almost never carry cash (this is yet another reason why I’ve not made any serious in-roads into this sort of shopping), so I’ve got to really plan ahead. In addition to knowing what amount of cash to carry, is having a set of twenties crisp from the ATM going to cause issues for the vendor’s making change? If so, I’ll need to plan a trip to the bank counter to get some smaller bills.

Q2: How much cash (and in what form) do you usually take to the Farmer’s Market for a week’s worth of veggie shopping?

Vendors: Do you shop around or pick a stall and stick to it?

At this farmer’s market (again, I’ve done a little visual reconnaissance on the odd weekend) there seem to be fewer single-produce stalls and more multi-product farms represented. In that case, when a lot of the sellers carry a similar variety, is it best to shop a single seller for the bulk of your buying or spread around your dollars? To that end, will buying a variety of items froma single source help your bottom line?

Q3: What’s your buying strategy, facing a lot of the same just at different tables?

Price: If it’s not listed, is it cool to ask?

Growing up strapped for cash (in a pocket or the bank), we joked a lot that ‘if you have to ask, you can’t afford it.’ While that may not necessarily apply at the farmer’s market (or most of my current shopping), I’m not used to having to ask the price and, yes, might be a little uncomfortable doing so. As what I’ve seen, so far, leans away from sellers putting up signs or tags, what’s the best way to inquire about price–especially if you’re shopping for the best value as well as the best produce?

Q4: How do you compare prices without being a heel?

Farmer’s market veterans, help a newbie out and save me the embarrassment of a blunder this coming weekend!