It’s peak produce season, and the local farmers markets are bursting with produce, with varieties that you just can’t find at your grocery store.
Now’s a great time to plan a trip, and to try to make it a weekly habit while the sun shines and the supply lasts.
Here are my best tips for navigating your favorite market:
Most farmers markets don’t take credit cards, so stop by the ATM for cash on the way. Bring your own shopping bags, although most markets will have some small plastic bags to offer. My favorite markets sell their own shoppers, with proceeds going to benefit the market.
Get there early
Some say to get there early for the best produce; I find this applies most often to limited edition prepared foods, like home -made salsas, breads, or boutique cheeses. Most produce will last all day, so don’t let a late start stop you from going.
Organic-how do you tell?
Produce at the farmers market is not necessarily organic produce. Local pesticides are just as toxic, so go for the certified organics farms, or a reputable local farmer who uses organic methods. The organic certification process is costly and takes a lot of time, and many small farmers can’t afford the process. My test? If the produce looks too perfect, it’s most likely sprayed.
Shop your colors
Go for a broad range of colors in your bag to ensure a broad range of antioxidants. Antioxidants are found in the various colors in our foods, and will help to balance our nutrition and sweep our systems of free radicals. They are also helpful for anti-aging and sun protection.
Keep it fresh
It’s easy to get carried away, (I’m guilty as charged) so here are a few things that work for me;
- Freeze extra berries for days when you run out. (Wash, dry on a baking sheet and then freeze)
- Debbie Meyer Green Bags, available at Whole Foods, keep produce fresh extra long. These really work!
- Cook up a batch of fresh tomato sauce and freeze, or blend a big batch of gazpacho to last for days.
- Use extra cucumbers for soups, juice, and smoothies. This is wonderful for your skin!