Summer starts the opening of many area farmers markets in central Ohio.
Buying from a farmers market is one of the easiest ways to eat locally and support the farming community in your area.
Tips to make your farmers' market shopping experience productive and enjoyable:
1. Educate yourself by asking questions and know what is in season month by month in your area. Look online and in cookbooks for new recipes to incorporate seasonal produce.
2. The early bird gets the best picks. Plan to arrive at the start time to have the best selection of fresh harvested produce.
3. Take sturdy reusable bags, canvas totes, or backpacks to carry your loot. Once in the car, place it in a cooler with blue ice to ensure freshness.
4. Don't buy more than you will use. Sounds fairly, simple, but it is easy to get carried away by the sight of sweet corn, peaches, strawberries and other seasonal picks.
5. The term "fresh produce" is not to be confused with organic. Farmers who deal with organic produce will specifically label their fruit and vegetables.
6. Leave the big bills in your wallet. Carry ones and fives and loose change for easy money transactions.
7. Markets tend to be less crowded right when they open or just before they close (there are many, many exceptions to this, so try going to your market at different times to figure out the best time for you).
8. Make an offer. If the price is higher than you are willing to go, be polite, and make an offer. Instead of packing up the unsold goods, some vendors may be willing to lower the price on some items.
9. For the best deals, go to the farmers market late. Farmers and other vendors may be willing often prefer to discount products instead of loading them back up and schlepping them home.
10. The notion that you can get produce "cheaper" at a farmer's market is no longer the case. Small farmer's market growers often cannot compete with the prices of price-competitive major grocery chains. Farmers as well as loyal customers say the quality and taste is well worth the increase in price.
For a list of local farmers markets in Ohio, visit www.ohioproud.org. Type in your county for a complete list in your area. It is a wonderful way to support the community -- and local farmers.
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