If healthy eating is on your mind (and it should be, regularly!), farmers’ markets are a great option for mixing fun with efficiency. Get outside, join and support the community, and pick up your groceries. You may even find some new “mystery” vegetables to up your cooking and nutrient game.
The trick is knowing where and when they’re open, and what vendors will appear. That’s where the U.S. Department of Agriculture comes in. Sure, word of mouth or a google search are great ways to find options in your area, but the USDA has a nice tool to save you research time and test trips.
Farmers’ Markets Directory Search
If “two or more farm vendors are gathered to sell agriculture products directly to customers at a common, recurrent location,” it’s in this massive directory.
Search by zip code and an optional radius (5, 10, 20+) around your area (plus market name, if you know it). You’ll get results ranked by distance that show the farmers’ market name, city, and state, with a link to their website and another that provides various amounts of info per market. Some regions get so detailed that you have the added advantage of searching product availability, payment options, and even whether the market participates in Federal nutrition programs, such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).
Once you have your results, visiting the market’s website for the latest news is your best bet for up-to-date details. You can also follow their social accounts for ongoing updates, once you have your favorite neighborhood market(s) decided.
Farmers’ Market Shopping Tips:
- Bring cash. It’s quickest and easiest; though some vendors will have credit card readers.
- Bring a reusable bag. Sure, most have plastic bags, but go green instead!
- You don’t have to buy the whole bundle. Vendors usually group items, but you can choose just one tomato, rather than the whole bundle. Or buy the whole thing, but split it with someone!
- Come hungry. Many markets have samples, plus food trucks or other vendors that sell product, and of course, you can always dig into your healthy stash!
- Check before you go. Some markets move around, and others adjust their open times based on season and weather. Product offerings will also vary based on region and season.
Get out there and explore. It’s a great chance to shop local, eat healthy, and try something new!