How to Navigate Farmers Market Prices Successfully

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What's your favorite way to spend Saturday and Sunday morning? If you're anything like us, you love getting in a little extra sleep after a long week, followed by a trip to the local farmers market. There's something so special about spending the morning supporting local communities, stocking up on healthy groceries and learning about local vendors that inspire us to make it part of our weekend routine. If you're just as eager to take a trip to your farmers' market, we have exactly what you need to get the most out of your next trip!

Four tips for navigating farmers market prices and vendors like a pro

1. Farmers market etiquette

Just as you would follow any simple rules of etiquette in daily life, there are some common practices to follow on your next farmers-market outing. Most vendors love talking about their products and offering samples to market-goers, for example. But if they're small businesses, this may be one of their primary sources of income, so sample wisely. Unlike corporate farmers and food distributors, farmers-market vendors typically work with a smaller amount of resources, making their products much more limited. While it may be tempting, we recommend only sampling products you're really interested in or seeking specifically. Finally, don't forget to carry cash—preferably small bills—as you will find that a number of vendors typically don't accept checks or credit cards.

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2. Always arrive prepared and with a plan

Have you ever shopped at a grocery store on an empty stomach? If so, then you probably know what shopping on a whim can do to your wallet and your diet. The same rings true for the farmers market. Since local markets feature a number of different vendors, it's easy to purchase various items that you don't really need or don't have time to use. As with your trip to the grocery store, make a list or go with a recipe in mind. This way, you won't wind up purchasing anything that will go to waste and save your wallet from taking an unnecessary hit. And, of course, don't forget to ask questions. Many vendors feature recipes and tips on how to best serve their fresh food, if you don't see tips printed and readily available, just simply ask.

3. Don't forget to shop around

We recommend checking out different vendors and comparing prices before you make a purchase. Most farmers markets feature a number of different farms and businesses that are selling the same items—and you never know who will be featuring deals and other sales—so be sure to make your rounds before making any final decisions.

4. Avoid anything out of season

Farmers markets carry fresh, seasonal produce so you shouldn't have to worry about familiarizing yourself with what is in- and out-of-season as you would in the grocery store. But just in case, ask the farmer or vendor questions if you're skeptical. Just like any business owner, they will likely be transparent about their merchandise. And one last thing: Don't forget to check to see if the market is USDA- and state-certified, or a producers only market, that way you know the market is full of farm fresh vendors only.

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