The Schenectady Greenmarket's Jennifer Jennings shares her tips for navigating and making the most of your local farmers' market.
Tune in to Food Friday this week, when Jennifer will join us in the studio to talk about farmers' markets and fresh produce!
Personally, I look for a producer-only market. This means that the farmers, artisans and processors (cheese, dips, baked goods) you see at the market are the people who raised, created and prepared the food they are selling.
But if you don’t have a producer-only market in your neighborhood or you don’t know if your market is producer-only, ask the vendors or market staff. Ask the vendors if they’ve grown the produce or raised the meat you see. To me, the point of a farmers’ market is to build a personal relationship with the people who grow, raise and create the food you are purchasing. So no matter whether your market is a producer only or not, you have an opportunity to build a relationship the people who create your food.
Look for the things you know and the things you don’t know. I’m the kind of person that always feels comfortable in a new situation if I can find at least one thing I’m familiar with. So, if you are going to a farmers’ market for the first time start by finding the items you know--like onions, carrots and potatoes. From there check out the items at the same vendor you don’t know, ask questions about them, learn and try.
Finally, I’d say look for samples and taste as much as you can. Farmers’ markets offer a whole range of flavors from fresh produce to cheeses to wines and dips like hummus, pesto, etc. Sample, sample, sample and find out what products from what vendors you like best. You don’t get to taste test at the grocery store, but at the farmers’ market the more you taste the more you’ll love.