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Thursday, August 2, 2012
By Karen Kwan
You’ve still got a few months left to take advantage of the fantastic farmer’s markets (most close down for the season at the end of October, although some do take it indoors, such as the one at Evergreen Brick Works). A farmer’s market newbie? We checked in with Rebecca Leheup, the executive director of the Ontario Culinary Tourism Alliance, for her tips on getting the most out of the experience. “A farmer’s market is often the first thing I check out when I go someplace, and at home I go to one at least once a week,” she says.
Do bring cash and reusable bags. “Some of the bigger markets will take debit and credit, but most only take cash, so stop at an ATM beforehand,” says Leheup. In addition to bags, bring a portable cooler if you plan to buy cheese and other such items.
Do go early. Yes, the early bird does get the worm, or in this case, the best choice of produce and wares. “There will be a limited amount of certain produce,” she says. You’ll have fewer options at the end of the day, and it’s not like the farmers start slashing prices then, so set your alarm clock.
Don’t buy everything at the first few stands you see. “I like to walk around first, depending on the size of the market, to look and then I go back to get stuff.”
Do take your time and go hungry. There’s often prepared foods for sale and so plan to take advantage of the delicious foods for sale and take in the sense of community rather than rushing through it, says Leheup.
Don’t expect produce to look like it does in your supermarket. “The reality is it’s not packaged as it would be in a retail store, where everything is the same size and power-washed,” says Leheup. “The produce is often picked fresh from the field that morning or the day before and cleaned but not glistening or perfect, but it looks better to me!”
Do eat the fruit sooner rather than later. The fruit you get from the farmer’s market isn’t genetically modified or treated with chemicals for longer shelf life, so for some fruits, you may find them more perishable. But chances are you’ll find it hard to resist eating your buys right away anyhow!
Don’t bargain. The beauty of these markets is that you’re supporting your local farmer. “The price is what it is and it’s how they make money,” she says.
Now that you’re a pro on how to shop at one, check online for farmer’s markets near you (if you’re in Ontario, you can get a list of where to find farmer’s markets from the Ontario Culinary Tourism Alliance website)