Breaking News Bar
updated: 6/6/2013 2:32 PM

Tips for a successful trip to the market

hello
Success - Article sent! close
  • PAUL VALADE/pvalade@dailyherald.com  The Grayslake Farmers Market is Lake County's oldest and largest evening market. Geneva Lakes Produce Farm & Greenhouse from Burlington, Wis. offerered a nice selection of vegetables Wednesday which included red and green peppers.

      PAUL VALADE/pvalade@dailyherald.com The Grayslake Farmers Market is Lake County's oldest and largest evening market. Geneva Lakes Produce Farm & Greenhouse from Burlington, Wis. offerered a nice selection of vegetables Wednesday which included red and green peppers.

 
By Elaine Gordon
Special to The Washington Post

With all the recent interest in locally grown, farm-fresh and organic foods, it's no wonder the number of U.S. farmers markets has more than tripled in the past 15 years. There are now more than 7,175 across the country, according to the Agriculture Department.

Buying local means products are picked at peak ripeness, providing the top freshness, flavor and nutrients. The foods are transported fewer miles and are coming directly from the people who grow them. And you can feel good about supporting your local economy and strengthening the local food system.

Now is the time to get exploring, to discover new produce and fresh or potted herbs that your supermarket might not feature.

Proper preparation can help make a good experience great. Follow these guidelines to get the most out of your farmers market:

• Bring reusable, clean bags to carry your goodies home. Use separate bags for raw and cooked foods.

• Bring storage containers for delicate produce such as berries and cherry tomatoes that might otherwise get crushed when combined with other products.

• Arrive early in the day before the crowds for the best selection. That perfectly plump tomato will be the first to go. However, if you do go toward the end of the day, you might get some good deals.

• Bring cash in small bills with a bag for change.

• Go in with an open mind. My first experience with garlic scapes was because one of the vendors pointed it out to me and said you could make an amazing pesto out of the twisty, curly plant. Garlic scapes are now something I very much look forward to and can't find anywhere but at the market.

• Take the time to scope out the entire market, as different farmers offer different selections and prices of the same items. And be sure to ask the farmers how long produce will stay fresh to make sure you don't overbuy. They also usually can provide good storage tips.

• Elaine Gordon, a master of public health professional and a master certified health education specialist, is creator of the healthful recipe site EatingbyElaine.com.

Share this page
Comments ()
Guidelines: Keep it civil and on topic; no profanity, vulgarity, slurs or personal attacks. People who harass others or joke about tragedies will be blocked. If a comment violates these standards or our terms of service, click the X in the upper right corner of the comment box. To find our more, read our FAQ.
    help here