Home > Uncategorized > 10 Ways to Get More Out of the Farmers Market

Comments 0 Comments

With the arrival of farmers market season comes opportunity for savings — and overspending.

Farmers markets can be a great way to save money while supporting local businesses, but you have to be careful.

For example, produce isn’t always cheaper at the market. And it isn’t even necessarily local.

These tips will help you get more for your money the next time you’re at a farmers market.

1. Know Your Options

One way to get better prices on produce is to get to know all the farmers markets in your area. Several directories can help you find them:

  • U.S. Department of Agriculture
  • The Old Farmer’s Almanac
  • LocalHarvest

Don’t go too far out of your way just for a market, though. The added cost of gas can negate any savings.

2. Keep Tabs Online

If you find a place you love, ask if they have a website or Facebook page that you can track to keep tabs on new arrivals and discounts.

3. Don’t Discount the Grocery Store

Sometimes produce is cheaper at the grocery store. So if price is paramount, read your local grocery stores’ weekly ads.

Doing so before heading to the farmers market keeps you from overpaying.

4. Come Prepared

Make sure you bring bags and cash.

Some vendors might not have bags or might charge for them. Also, some vendors don’t accept credit cards.

5. Don’t Assume It’s Locally Grown

There are two types of farmers markets, according to Organic Life magazine.

At true farmers markets, also known as producer-only markets, farmers sell produce they grew on their farms.

At farm markets, also known as produce markets, buyers resell produce they bought wholesale — and that is often from another state or country.

If supporting local farmers or buying the freshest produce possible is important to you, ask a market’s director whether it’s producer-only.

6. Buy In Season

This rule helps ensure you get the best-tasting produce at the best price.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s seasonal produce guide categorizes fruits and vegetables into the four seasons.

The nonprofit Center for Urban Education about Sustainable Agriculture’s seasonality charts for fruits and nuts and for vegetables both categorize foods into months and can be downloaded as PDFs. They also indicate when foods can be found out of season.

When a food is in season can vary by region. To find out what’s in season in your state, check out the Sustainable Table food program’s seasonal food guide, which includes herbs.

7. Be Flexible

Sticking to meal plans and shopping lists is a great way to save money. If you plan a dinner around certain veggies and find a deal on others, however, it pays to be flexible.

Build options into your meal plan, or use a mobile device while at the market to search for recipes that use the cheaper produce and call for ingredients that you already have at home.

8. Know What Can Be Frozen

Buying produce in bulk doesn’t save as much money if it goes bad before you can eat it all.

If you find a steal on more bulk produce than your household could eat in a short time, make sure it can be frozen. The National Center for Home Food Preservation’s website has instructions for freezing fruits and vegetables.

9. Choose Wisely

Produce quality depends on how it is handled immediately after it’s harvested, according to Consumer Reports:

Quality can deteriorate quickly without gentle handling, refrigeration and careful control of the storage atmosphere and humidity.

The magazine recently published advice for picking produce that will last as long as possible — “How to Pick Perfect Produce.”

10. Consider Alternatives

Farmers markets aren’t the only source of locally grown produce.

To find out if there are any on-farm markets or community-supported agriculture in your area, check the USDA’s local food directories.

For community gardens, check the American Community Gardening Association’s directory, or ask your neighborhood association or municipality.

This post originally appeared on Money Talks News.

More from Money Talks News:

Image: istock

Comments on articles and responses to those comments are not provided or commissioned by a bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by a bank advertiser. It is not a bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

Please note that our comments are moderated, so it may take a little time before you see them on the page. Thanks for your patience.

Credit.com receives compensation for the financial products and services advertised on this site if our users apply for and sign up for any of them.

Hello, Reader!

Thanks for checking out Credit.com. We hope you find the site and the journalism we produce useful. We wanted to take some time to tell you a bit about ourselves.

Our People

The Credit.com editorial team is staffed by a team of editors and reporters, each with many years of financial reporting experience. We’ve worked for places like the New York Times, American Banker, Frontline, TheStreet.com, Business Insider, ABC News, NBC News, CNBC and many others. We also employ a few freelancers and more than 50 contributors (these are typically subject matter experts from the worlds of finance, academia, politics, business and elsewhere).

Our Reporting

We take great pains to ensure that the articles, video and graphics you see on Credit.com are thoroughly reported and fact-checked. Each story is read by two separate editors, and we adhere to the highest editorial standards. We’re not perfect, however, and if you see something that you think is wrong, please email us at editorial team [at] credit [dot] com,

The Credit.com editorial team is committed to providing our readers and viewers with sound, well-reported and understandable information designed to inform and empower. We won’t tell you what to do. We will, however, do our best to explain the consequences of various actions, thereby arming you with the information you need to make decisions that are in your best interests. We also write about things relating to money and finance we think are interesting and want to share.

In addition to appearing on Credit.com, our articles are syndicated to dozens of other news sites. We have more than 100 partners, including MSN, ABC News, CBS News, Yahoo, Marketwatch, Scripps, Money Magazine and many others. This network operates similarly to the Associated Press or Reuters, except we focus almost exclusively on issues relating to personal finance. These are not advertorial or paid placements, rather we provide these articles to our partners in most cases for free. These relationships create more awareness of Credit.com in general and they result in more traffic to us as well.

Our Business Model

Credit.com’s journalism is largely supported by an e-commerce business model. Rather than rely on revenue from display ad impressions, Credit.com maintains a financial marketplace separate from its editorial pages. When someone navigates to those pages, and applies for a credit card, for example, Credit.com will get paid what is essentially a finder’s fee if that person ends up getting the card. That doesn’t mean, however, that our editorial decisions are informed by the products available in our marketplace. The editorial team chooses what to write about and how to write about it independently of the decisions and priorities of the business side of the company. In fact, we maintain a strict and important firewall between the editorial and business departments. Our mission as journalists is to serve the reader, not the advertiser. In that sense, we are no different from any other news organization that is supported by ad revenue.

Visitors to Credit.com are also able to register for a free Credit.com account, which gives them access to a tool called The Credit Report Card. This tool provides users with two free credit scores and a breakdown of the information in their Experian credit report, updated twice monthly. Again, this tool is entirely free, and we mention that frequently in our articles, because we think that it’s a good thing for users to have access to data like this. Separate from its educational value, there is also a business angle to the Credit Report Card. Registered users can be matched with products and services for which they are most likely to qualify. In other words, if you register and you find that your credit is less than stellar, Credit.com won’t recommend a high-end platinum credit card that requires an excellent credit score You’d likely get rejected, and that’s no good for you or Credit.com. You’d be no closer to getting a product you need, there’d be a wasted inquiry on your credit report, and Credit.com wouldn’t get paid. These are essentially what are commonly referred to as "targeted ads" in the world of the Internet. Despite all of this, however, even if you never apply for any product, the Credit Report Card will remain free, and none of this will impact how the editorial team reports on credit and credit scores.

Your Stories

Lastly, much of what we do is informed by our own experiences as well as the experiences of our readers. We want to tell your stories if you’re interested in sharing them. Please email us at story ideas [at] credit [dot] com with ideas or visit us on Facebook or Twitter.

Thanks for stopping by.

- The Credit.com Editorial Team