Market Shopping Tips

Shopping at farmers’ markets is different from shopping at the grocery store; you get to know the people growing your food, get cooking tips on unfamiliar foods and can shop around for the best prices. By following a few simple tips, you’ll find it just as easy—and more fun—than shopping in a store.

Don’t bring a list.

Contrary to shopping at the grocery store, you never know what you’ll find at a farmers’ market from week to week. Walk around the market and make your decisions based on what looks good to you and what’s in season. It’s then easy to go home and plan your meals around what you bought.

Shop early for variety.

You’ll find the best selection early in the day, so try to get there when the market first opens.

Or… shop late if you’re looking for a deal.

Arriving at the end of the market day may not offer as much variety, but you may be able to get some good deals. It never hurts to ask a farmer if the price has changed just before the market closes.

Browse before buying.

Take time to taste and compare the offerings and prices of different vendors.

Be eco-friendly.

Bring your own bags and baskets. If you have a long trip home, bring a cooler to keep your goodies cool and fresh.

Ask questions.

See something at the market you don’t recognize? Ask the farmer about it. Unlike most places, many farmers will let you taste before you buy, and they can also give you ideas for cooking and proper storage. There’s no better way to find out about your food than asking the people who grow it directly.

Stock up at the peak of the season.

See tomatoes at nearly every booth at the market? They’re likely at the peak of their season, which means they are going to be full of flavor and offered at a great price. When you get your bounty home, put food away to enjoy all year long by canning or freezing.

Store food to last.

Put all greens (lettuces, chards, etc.) in plastic bags in the fridge. Tomatoes, garlic, potatoes, and onions should always be stored at room temperature. Some hard squashes can last up to months if stored at room temperature in a dark place.

Make it a habit.

Becoming a regular market shopper is a great way to connect with your local community by getting to know local farmers, supporting your local economy, connecting with the local seasons and environment, and meeting with friends and neighbors.

Print out a downloadable copy of these tips and take it with you until you’ve got the routine.

Want more ideas? Check out our Albuquerque Journal columns or Seasonal Recipes for info on local farmers, food, and cooking!