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How do you shop at farmers markets?

I'm curious to hear how different people shop at their farmers markets, especially the larger ones with several different options for the same type of produce.

Some questions, but feel free to discuss anything about how you shop at farmers markets:

- Do you have a favorite farm that you always go to because you trust them?
- Do you look around for the best price for each item you buy?
- If you find good produce, do you buy it regardless of price? Do you compare the quality with other vendors before buying?
- Do you engage in conversation with vendors? Ask about growing practices, cooking tips, etc.?
- How often do you shop at farmers markets vs. grocery stores?
- Do you go to more than one farmers market, or just the most convenient/closest one?

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  1. My local farmers' market is only on Saturday, so I look for a few things I can use and store for the week. I only cook for myself at this point, so stocking up on every great thing I see doesn't work for me.

    I peruse the whole place first (there are only about 25 purveyors) to see who has what and the prices, then go back to the places that fit what I want. I also know what is available at the grocery store and weigh those prices and quality against what I can see. I'm on a meager budget, so this is something I have to do.

    I love to chat with them and get their ideas, though it is so busy that I don't take up too much of their time.

    1. first, i skip over all the stalls that don't sell organic produce.
      good non-organic produce is pretty widely available in my city. good organic produce is much harder to come by.

      4 Replies
      1. re: westsidegal

        Do you buy from non-certified growers, or only USDA/CCOF certified?

        1. re: erichalias

          I will admit I never even thought about it...the farm is certified organic..
          http://countrysidefarmproducts.com/

        2. re: westsidegal

          OP, you can ask if the producer uses organic practices. Then, watch "In Organic We Trust" and see if you think "organic" is the be all, end all.

          1. re: monavano

            My market has many farmers who are not 'organic certified' but farm to an even higher standard. They are happy to talk about it, describe their process, and invite you to visit their farm. Unfortunately, 'organic certified' can be quite expensive for small farms. I shop mostly with smaller farmers.

        3. Half-awake, when I bother to wake up early enough to go.

          1. I like to go when it's busiest and roll the kids around in my double stroller after I park the Expedition in the fire lane. I try to tie up the vendors with never ending questions about where their stuff was grown, ask for samples whether they are offered or not, and try to haggle on the prices. If the kids start crying I tend to them right then, regardless of how many people are waiting behind me, and ask the vendor for something to give them, like a strawberry or piece of melon. When they throw it down I don't pick it up. Sometimes if I find something cheaper in another stall I try to get a refund. If I see someone I know I like to strike up a conversation right in the middle of the aisle, especially if they have a stroller too. When I get home I shove all my produce in the crisper drawer and then complain when it doesn't taste fresh five days later. I'm thinking about a CSA, anyone know one?

            7 Replies
            1. re: Samalicious

              I think I've seen you before at my market. Your Expedition took up the spot I wanted for my Suburban.

              Thanks for the chuckle!

              1. re: Samalicious

                Nah...the problem with a CSA is you won't get a chance to squeeze all the peaches and nectarines to find the perfect ones, let alone jam 'em up against your nose, the better to smell for ripeness. Plus, with a CSA, anything in your delivery that you drop on the ground/floor, well, forget about sending it back: it's YOURS. Who would want that??

                1. re: ricepad

                  At my CSA we get to actually pack and choose our own produce.. we are not an urban lazy people CSA. We always have items we can pick ourselves in the field, and we have "sweat equity" in the farm in that we have to work a certain number of hours per season to help out. So not all CSA's are the same.

                2. re: Samalicious

                  Please don't tell me you leave your poor DOG at home!?!

                  1. re: Samalicious

                    No, but you forgot to mention that you also go to the market with your giant hound on a long leash that cuts off entire lanes of pedestrian shoppers and wraps itself around their legs.

                    1. re: Samalicious

                      You forgot your dog, tied with a too-long-leash to your stroller!

                      1. my "main" farmers market is the one closest to me and that is where I pick up my CSA basket. I try to get there before 8 AM as my CSA farmer gives us choices only available if you're there early. Once I've received my share, I decide what else I want to buy. I have favorite farmers that I tend to buy from and depending on how busy they are, I chat a bit. I like to ask for their favorite way to prepare X, stuff like that.

                        Regarding prices, I don't find much variation in the prices between various vendors but I do pay attention and use that as part of the selection criteria.