Craving ripe, red berries? How about sweet corn on the cob or juicy watermelon? You can find summer’s best produce at your local farmers’ market – and it’s often less expensive than fruits and veggies at the grocery store. Buying local can be healthier, too: The fresher the produce, the more nutrients it has. So seek out some farmers’ markets this summer – and keep these tips in mind to get the most bang for your buck and the best produce possible.
1. Know when to opt for organic.
Buying organic produce can be expensive, and to top it off, research shows it’s no more nutritious than regular produce. But many of the local farms that sell their produce at farmers’ markets use little, if any, pesticides – so you can reduce your exposure to chemicals without spending a ton of money. However, if you find both organic and non-organic options at the market, be sure to choose organic for the five foods mentioned in this video with nutritionist Kate Geagan, MS, RD.
2. Shop in season.
If you want to get the freshest, most flavorful produce at the best price, choose foods that are in season. For example: strawberries and asparagus in the spring, raspberries in the summer and pomegranates in the fall. Wondering what to do with the bounty of produce you come home with? Check out these great ideas to get more summer fruits and vegetables in your diet.
3. Get up early.
There are some great reasons to be one of the first to arrive at the farmers’ market. When you head out early, you can get produce that hasn’t been siting out a long time – and, of course, your choice of what’s in the bins, not what’s left over after the crowds arrive. Plus you beat the midday heat!
4. Find the freshest food.
Wondering how to pick out the best food at the farmer’s market? Look for fruits and veggies that are firm and free of cuts or bruises. Do a “smell test” for fruits like cantaloupe, strawberries and peaches: Fragrant means flavorful. And talk to the people who man the stalls. They can tell you, for instance, which peaches to buy if you want to eat them soon and which to buy if you want to enjoy them later in the week.
5. Carry cash.
Trade the plastic for paper and pay in cash. Otherwise you could end up overstuffing your bag with so much fresh, ripe produce that it may end up spoiling before you can eat it. Carrying cash also has surprising health benefits. One study found that food shoppers make 30% fewer unhealthy impulse buys when they pay in cash. Take our farmers’ market quiz for more tips on how to score at the farmer’s market.