Whether you are planning to attend a Saturday morning Farmer's Market, or happen to be driving by one, be prepared to pick fresh, local produce anytime. With a few minutes of planning and packing, you'll be ready at a moment's notice week after week throughout the Farmer's Market selling season.
Here is a "go prepared to pick" list to help you take home the newly harvested ingredients in an easy, enjoyable way:
1. Bring cash in small bills, and a full change purse. This will move you through the line quickly; some vendors don't take credit cards at certain market locales.
2. A hat and sunglasses are a must, as is a comfortable pair of sneakers. If the market is in a parking lot, it gets very hot and rarely is there shade. Also, keep an umbrella in the car so you can take your time on a rainy day as you walk the stands.
3. Dig out the old cooler in the basement and leave it in the trunk of your car. This will be invaluable on hot days to keep your greens crisp. It will also buy you time if you have to make a stop on the way home.
4. Next to the cooler, put a small, sturdy cardboard box to hold purchases like apples, potatoes, ears of corn, jars of pickles, etc. They won't roll around and when the box gets dirty, you can recycle it.
5. Carry a large tote bag that has a sturdy shoulder strap with an inside zipper for your wallet. This eliminates the need for a purse, freeing up your hands to pick the produce. When you aren't at the market, keep the tote bag (sans wallet) stored in the box so it is always with you for an unexpected stop.
6. Bring a bottle of water in your tote bag. You may want to keep a spray-on sunscreen in the cooler for exposed arms and legs.
7. Keep the following "kit" in the box: a roll of paper towels, a spritz bottle filled with water, hand sanitizer. If you buy cut flowers, spritz some paper towels with the water and wrap the stems of the flowers, put into cooler. Often, farmer's market items are still wearing the farm, so you'll be glad you packed the paper towels, water, and hand sanitizer for a quick cleanup.
Not sure when or where there's a Farmer's Market near you? Check out Local Harvest and the USDA's Agricultural Marketing Service sites to locate one in your backyard. With this shopping list, you'll go prepared to pick up the local produce with ease. Enjoy!
Did I miss anything? What experiences have you had at a Farmer's Market? What is your favorite food find? Share with us!