One of my favorite Saturday morning traditions is visiting the Columbus Farmer’s Market. We love to wander around, pick up a few things to eat for the week ahead, savor some sausage breakfast sandwiches, and sip our coffee and tea. It’s one of those wonderful things that define weekends from weekdays and summer from winter in our family.
I’ve been to at least a dozen different markets around the state over the past few years. It’s an especially fun thing to do when exploring a new town or region of the state.
Seasonal farmer’s markets around Indiana started up again this month (or will next month) and offer a really great opportunity to dig in to Indiana’s bountiful agricultural offerings.
Here are a few tips if a trip to the farmer’s market is new to you:
- Bring your own bags. Sure, most of the vendors will have a plastic bag to offer, but all the experienced market goers will have their own cloth totes. And you don’t want to look like a rookie, right?
- Get some cash. A swing by the ATM is pretty typical for my family before heading to the market. Some vendors may take credit card or check, but most will be cash only.
- Make a complete lap around before making any purchases. I’ve been known to get suckered into buying the first bright red tomato I see, only to see better ones or cheaper ones a few booths down. Now I know to take my time and survey all my options to see what produce looks best before buying.
- Talk to the vendors. I love chatting with the farmers and employees when visiting the market. You’ll learn so much about where the products are grown, how they’re cultivated and transported to market, and they always have a great recipe or cooking preparation tip to share. In my opinion, these personal connections are what make a visit to the market so much better than a trip to a mass retail grocery store.
- Get a schedule. Many markets offer live music or rotating booths throughout the season. If there’s a particular vendor or musical performance you don’t want to miss, this is the best way to make sure you’re there.
- Set a budget. All the food, crafts, and tasty treats can be pretty tantalizing. We usually show up with about $20, and when it’s gone, we’re all done buying. Although I’ve been known to make exceptions if I want to buy a gift, splurge on a some high quality meat, etc. While it may seem like an expensive outing, my regular grocery bill always goes down in the summer because I don’t need as much due to my market purchases. Whatever your budget or spending habits, you’ll at least have the satisfaction of knowing you’re supporting local businesses.
I’m so excited to start buying fresh produce at the market again that I even started a farmer’s market recipe idea board on Pinterest. And I’m sharing some tips for visiting farmer’s markets with kids here.
Don’t forget to stop by a market while you’re traveling around the state this summer! What is your favorite farmer’s market?
Photo courtesy of the South Bend Farmer’s Market.