There are many benefits to shopping local, including supporting your local economy and accessing produce at the peak of freshness! However, shopping at a farmer’s market can sometimes be daunting, especially for first-time market-goers. Here are some tips for how to shop savvy at your next visit!
Produce that is in season often costs less, has a higher nutrient content, and a better flavor profile. Do your research before going to your local market to ensure that there are fruits and veggies that you are interested in. You can use this seasonal Georgia produce chart as a guide.
Did you know that many farmer’s markets double SNAP benefits? In Georgia, this program is called “Fresh for Less,” and it allows SNAP participants to match their benefits- dollar for dollar- at participating markets.  To find a list of farmer’s markets in your area where you can stretch your buying power, click here.
Determining a budget is important for any shopping venture, as it allows you to create a spending plan for your money. Budgeting can help eliminate any extra nerves that you have about attending the market and help you stay on track when deciding what to buy and what can wait until your next market outing. A great place to start is by planning out a weekly meal plan so that you know what items you need. Check out our blog on budgeting for more helpful tips.
Don’t be afraid to strike up a conversation with a vendor when deciding on what to buy! Most vendors like to talk about their products and offer a story behind them, so they would be more than willing to give you advice on how to prepare the produce that you are interested in. Some may even have resources like recipe cards or food blog suggestions readily available for you.
Most local markets have a variety of vendors that sell more than just produce. Other popular items include flowers, plants, homemade food items, and handmade crafts like jewelry or pottery. This could be the perfect place to look for your next gift for a friend or family member, and you would be supporting local businesses, too!
While it is important to come with a shopping list as a guide, you can still remain flexible when it comes to the appearance of the product and the variety available. A little blemish on the skin of a tomato or an eggplant with a funky shape won’t change the nutrient value of the vegetable and they will still be just as tasty!
Written by Darci Bell, RDN, LD | Edited by Laurel Sanville, MS, RDN, LD