Summer is about to hit full swing in another week as the Summer Solstice rounds the corner and really warms up the earth as mother nature shares her bounty of good fruits and vegetables with the farmers and gardners of Atlanta’s Farmer’s Markets. If you are looking for specialty, special diets foods, organic, gluten-free, seasonal, and local small businesses you may not know about that produce handmade goodies, the Farmer’s Markets are your greatest source. They sustain local eating, agriculture and economics and are only here in season. Shopping at chain grocery stores should be secondary.
Many people are now coming to the Farmer’s Markets for their first time and it is fantastic seeing people get outside in the fresh summer air and shopping in the open markets. It is a rejuvenating experience and a great way to meet the locals and get a friendly how do ya’ do. The Farmer’s Markets are splendid for getting you out of the dumps and springing you back into feeling alive again just being around the buzz that is live fresh food and innovative people doing exciting things with it.
Here are some tips and tricks for first timers and the old timers:
- Arrive early, period. The best of the best is right when the Farmer’s Market opens and some markets even have a line of people waiting to get in already when you get there. Some vendors have their fans and they get their early to rin in and grab the goods and head out before the heat of the day kicks in, leaving late arrivals with nothing but picked over left overs.
- Green news is always good news you can use, bring your own reusable bags to place your purchases in. A lot of vendors do not supply bags or or even have boxes to hand out. Make your visit pleasant buy bringing bags and being prepared to carry out what you take in. Some folks even back packs, carts or old strollers to tote their many and varied purchases it. Good idea.
- Shop around and look at everything quickly, and then buy what you want. This is another value in arriving early so you have time to do this before larger late crowds arrive. Some things are worth buying and someone on the next lane may have it cheaper. Some farmers will put out perfect specimens and charge a prettty penny, while others will have cheaper prices on what might be slighty battered. You choose.
- Ask questions, don’t be afraid to. Especially if you are looking for specialty items, like organic, or pecticides, not all vendors want to pay the high prices for certification even if they follow the same protocols. If something is homemade, the farmers are human too and are more than happy to share with you how it was made or what ingredient you want to stay away from, farming methods or cooking tips
- Keep your insults to yourself, this is not a clerk in a large chain market who has no personal involvement in any of the products. These are folks that take pride in bringing you what they grow and make on their own, and no they don’t have more in the back stockroom. If they are out of something you want then arrive earlier next time and go to that vendor or booth first.
- Bring small change, allow your vendor to service you better by not having to give you all of their change they are using for all customers to cash your fifty or one-hundred dollar bill. A twenty is pushing it, make use of your small change and singles and fives.
- Think in terms of fresh and whole, fruit and vegetables make come with a little dirt on them and carrots have not been peeled.
- Try something new, open your horizons and once a month or more frquently try purple carrots or blue potatoes or a vegetable you may never have heard of or laid eyes upon before, get tips from the farmer on how to cook it.
- Summer time and the living is easy, well it’s supposed to be any way. Make purchases accordingly and your recipes too, to include less cooking time and to simplify and reduce your time spent in the kitchen or use your grill. Just because you have air conditioning doesn’t mean you still cook like you do it the winter time, for warmth and heat. It’s boy howdy hotter than heckfire outside, cool off and enjoy your good things in life, fresh fruits and vegetables in season. Tie your hair up and pull up a seat. and enjoy the free entertainment provided at some markets
- Buy in bulk, when items are in peak season, they are plentiful and cheaper. Make plans to split bulk items with friends and relatives and split the cost or be prepared to freeze it or can it.