Instructables

How to Shop at a Downtown Farmers Market

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This is a beginner's guide to shopping at your downtown farmers market during a work day for people who don't know anything about fruit and vegetables, and don't particularly like to cook.

Shopping at your neighborhood's farmers market is an item on Neighbors Project's Neighbors Checklist because you're likely to meet your neighbors at that type of market. Those markets are usually on the weekend. But shopping at your downtown farmers market is also neighborly because buying your groceries in batches from multiple locations tends to increase your likelihood of supporting local stores and farms and decrease your likelihood of using a car to buy groceries. Having lived in a neighborhood that tended to get saturated with people driving to the nearby Costco every Saturday morning, I can assure you that that type of shopping ain't neighborly. Thanks to the people in cars, the streets with the local shops and neighborhood institutions were noisy, dangerous to cross and smelly; not exactly conducive to local businesses and chatting with your neighbors on the street.

I hate cooking (except baking) and don't know much about food in general. So it's really important for me to have good fruit, vegetables, cheese, breads and other basics around. That's what I slap together for meals. Otherwise I'll make myself sick eating an entire cake or bag of candy or pick up a slice. So getting basics from a farmers market is a key part of be a reasonably healthy and energetic person for me.

To do this Instructable, you'll need:
-Canvass or plastic bag(s)
-Transit pass or money for your train/bus commute
-A farmers market within walking distance of your job
-Money

This is written mostly for people who work in a walkable downtown and commute by train or bus.
 
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daa58494 years ago
Go to localharvest.org to find the farmer's market nearest to you!
luvit4 years ago
i'm gonna buy me a good farmer. thanks to you.
5 stars!
mcpguru4 years ago
The Muni (subway) and California signs make me think this is San Francisco.  The farmer's markets I've been to in SF are worlds away from either the Haymarket madness or the farmer's markets in Boston (departed 2.5 years ago, haven't missed the snow or accent yet).

My idea is to ignore the "go nuts" and go slow.  Buy one or two more things than last week, and stop when you start throwing away food that rots.

cheers!
erosser5 years ago
Also, dressing like the lady in the first picture sometimes gets you better prices... :) At least from the male vendors.
At most farmer's markets we've been to, gender didn't matter ;-)
Bardouv5 years ago
That farmer's market looks real nice. The one I go to is a total Hooverville.
Lovely instructable for those who have never experienced shopping at a Farmers' Market. I have to ask where your Farmers' market and subway are located. Here in Boston, home of the nation's first continously operating Farmers' Market, Haymarket; and subway, and both of these assets look nothing like the sparkling clean and friendly market and subway you have photographed. The food is well worth the hassle, both in freshness and cost, which is often amazingly cheap. One thing I'd like to add to your Instructable is advice to take $1 and $5 bills. The vendors are always flooded with large bills and you will get better service and nicer food once they remember you as the person with exact change. Oh yes, check and see if your particular farmers' market allows customers to choose and bag their own produce. Boston's Haymarket does not, so insist upon seeing the food in the bag before paying. The rule is to keep the produce in decent shape and to thwart shoplifters, but it does make it a bit harder to get what you want.
Haymarket isn't technically a farmers' market - it's a vegetable wholesalers' market. This is where they offload end-of-week surplus for blindingly cheap prices, but the lifespan for these veggies is usually very short. They're also from California, Chile, or wherever the grocery wholesalers are sourcing their product - you're not supporting local Boston-area farms.

That said, I bought food for a house of 30+ at Haymarket for years, and it can be a fantastic place to shop. Just get to know the vendors (showing up every week, being generally friendly, and bringing them Christmas cookies helps) and they'll take good care of you when picking your fruit/veggies and letting you know which are good that week.

There are lots of farmers' markets in the Boston area - I used to follow Stillman's Farm to different markets for their excellent Mirai corn. They run a great CSA, and have even started a meat CSA. Highly recommended.
30+?? Wow! That must've been quite a shopping list. I hope you brought helpers to carry all that home. : P
These trips always involved a car, and a helper to shuttle purchases back and forth to said car. ;) When you're buying everything by the box or 50lb bag it's a necessity!
Where is a good place to get these bags from, other than from, say, Martins or Target stores? (I've got some of those, but they keep tearing). I'm a personal fan of the khaki ones in particular. =)
camperken5 years ago
The best prices are at the end of the day when they are packing up wishing they had sold what they are packing. Of course they might be out by then. Also develop a relationship with people and it will pay off. I lived two blocks from the farmers market if KCMO and went over all the time. GO when they ain't busy and can talk to you
Solderguy5 years ago
Here in Portland we have farmers markets only on Saturday.
jnixon6 years ago
Thank you for teaching us how to be consumers. Seriously though, why??
tehsuxs jnixon5 years ago
i printed this out because i couldn't remember it all
Wog5 years ago
Hey, it looks like those "unidentified" green veggies are eggplants
Don't be scared of squashes! The firmer ones submit well to thin slicing and sauteing in spicy black bean sauce (available at Asian markets -- you're in SF, right? ;-) -- walk along Irving west of 19th Ave., or go to the grocery store on Clement St., for example). The softer squashes cook up well in a soup: add random veggies and a boullion cube (or a whole chicken, if you eat meat). Neither of these require a lot of labor over the range -- about 5 minutes of prep time and 10-15 minutes of sauteing, or longer for the soup (but unattended cooking is ok).
bnutmeg6 years ago
Yay farmers markets! To you commenters who think this sounds overly obvious, I can't tell you how many suburbanite friends visit me and are too self-conscious and timid to go to farmers markets or use public transit just because they never have before and aren't sure if there's something to it they don't know. Also, not to sound like a food snob, but more that I just so happen to have gone to a market that had a sign on the things, those "don't remember what they are" are amelanistic miniature eggplants.
bruno130696 years ago
My hometown (Bluffton, OH) has had a F/M for about 5 years. It's a great place to spend a Saturday morning. There are usually 10 regular vendors with about another dozen who rotate in and out with the seasonal goods. Some go for the fresh produce and baked goods. Others go for socializing. We often have local musicians perform (and busk) for the crowd.
Punkguyta6 years ago
Wow, I'll give ya a credit for something. -Punk
neighborsproject (author)  Punkguyta6 years ago
Umm ... thanks?