Top tips for navigating the farmers market
The stalls are ready and the produce is out: ’Tis the season for farmers markets! These outdoor markets are a great destination for local and fresh fruits, veggies, and even eggs, lean meat, and fresh fish, all of which fit into Slimming World’s filling, flexible eating plan, called Food Optimizing.
If you’re new to farmers markets, navigating the options can be intimidating. We turned to Leigh Vincola, program coordinator for Farm Fresh Rhode Island’s farmers market efforts, for top tips on getting the best from your local market.
Know before you go:
BYOB—bring your own bags, that is! Many vendors don’t provide them, plus doing so is friendly for the environment.
Pick your time. If variety is what you’re seeking, head over first thing when everything has just been set out. If it’s a deal you’re after, try visiting at the end of the market, when vendors may be open to offering discounts. Head over as the lunch or dinner rush kicks in to get the full effect. “If you want to hang out and see what’s there, going at peak hours is fun,” Vincola says.
While you’re there:
Seek advice from vendors. The farmers market is a great excuse to try new or different varieties of produce, and get creative with your cooking. If an unfamiliar fruit or vegetable catches your eye or you want fresh ideas for preparing an old favorite, ask your vendor. “It’s always a good idea to talk to vendors and get their advice,” Vincola says.
Buy what you need. Farmers markets are usually a weekly occurrence (check your local farmers market website or Facebook page for times and locations), so unlike your trip to the grocery store, it’s best to buy what you’ll use and avoid feeling like you should stock up on everything at once. “Start small,” Vincola says. “You don’t need to come home with a basket full of stuff. Get to know one vendor at a time and eventually the market will feel familiar.” While scouting for products, Vincola recommends checking for freshness. “You want produce to be colorful, relatively cool, and smell delicious,” she says.