Yesterday was the unofficial start of summer. The days are getting longer, the sun is shining brighter and local gardeners and farmers are finally able to start selling the crops they have been nurturing all season. Farmers’ markets are popping up everywhere and they are not only the greener way to shop but they can also save you some green.
Gone are the dark winter days of spending oodles of money on organic produce at your local supermarket or Whole Foods. By taking advantage of local farmers’ markets, you can find top notch produce without spending top dollar or worrying where it came from. Below you will find some of the best tips out there for saving the most when buying local.
Buy at the peak of the season
In order to really save money, avoid the first and last produce of the season. Buy the right fruits and vegetables when they are in abundance. Here are a few fruits and vegetables that grow in copious amounts during the summer season.
June: Apricots, Blueberries, cherries, corn, strawberries, watermelon, and zucchini
July: Apricots, Blueberries, Blackberries, green beans, corn, strawberries, watermelon, peaches, raspberries, summer squash, Zucchini
August: acorn squash, apples, apricots, blueberries, butternut squash, corn, cucumbers, eggplant, figs, green beans, lettuce, mangoes, peaches, peppers plums, raspberries, strawberries, summer squash, tomatoes, watermelon, winter squash, zucchini
Shop on rainy (or just cloudy) days
Fewer customers means better deals. It also means you have more one-on-one time with the farmers. Take this opportunity to learn about the best deals and maybe even barter a little bit.
If you want a deal or a discount you have to ask. Some farmers’ markets clearly state that bartering is not allowed. But in most cases it is perfectly acceptable. I’m not saying you should haggle for everything that you want to buy, but asking for an extra head of lettuce or a another bushel of strawberries will certainly get you more bang for your buck. Just remember to be polite (of course), don’t offer too little, and have cash in hand.
Become a Regular
By establishing a relationship with the producers/salespeople you establish loyalty. By doing so you are likely to be rewarded with extra savings, tips, and even recipes. Consider yourself an “insider”. Being a regular also helps when asking for deals and discounts as it is much more comfortable to ask a friend for a favor over a stranger.
Keep an open mind (and taste buds)
Sometimes the least expensive items are ones you don’t usually buy or have never tried. Take this opportunity to try something new.
Bring your entourage
Shop with friends and family and purchase cases of produce at the cheapest price and split up the cases between everyone.
Do you have any tips for saving money at farmers’ markets? What are the best farmers’ markets where you live?