13 Things You Should Know About Farmers’ Markets

Find out how to get the freshest food possible from the the people who grow it.

By Meaghan Cameron
  • Loading

    1. It's best to get here early.

    But if you can’t make it until later, what you'll get is still fresher than any that's been shipped to a supermarket, as most farmers pick produce the day of or day before its sold. In the case of perishable products, many bargains can be found at the end of the day.

    2. Many farmers depend on you to survive.

    Farmers count on the income from markets to get by; nearly all who participate in open markets run very small operations, and the profit margin is slim.

    3. If you spend $100 at a farmers' market, $62 goes back into the local economy, and $99 out of $100 stays in the state.

    If you spend $100 at a grocery store, only $25 stays here. So, where do you want your money to go?

    4. If you're not sure, ask to taste before buying.

    Almost all farmers are happy to provide a sample.

    5. Please stop saying how expensive it is.

    Local farm products would sell for much more in any specialty store, where there would be additional overhead costs and markups.

    6. Farmers don't do deals.

    With the very thin margins, the prices are often incredibly fair and there's no room for bargaining. The best way to get a good deal? Be a consistent customer.

    7. It's not really about retail sales.

    It's about cultivating a relationship with people who are willing to spend a little bit more for something a whole lot better.

    8. Standing out in the summer sun is nice, but the job isn't easy.

    Up early, loading trucks with heavy produce, being mindful of money, home late. Plus, when it rains, customers stay away and bad weather can easily damage products.

    9. Sometimes, produce vendors are only retailers, not growers.

    Ask questions if you think the vendor is a vegetable wholesaler, not a local farmer.

    10. Farmers care about where the products are coming from.

    Larger vendors may have a retail outlet, or be part of a franchise or chain business. Ask.

    11. You can't get everything all the time.

    To offer the freshest, best tasting food at a reasonable price, you have to be patient with the farmers and their growing cycles. There are seasons when certain produce isn’t available (even in California). No peaches in January, sure, but even in some regions, no summer tomatoes until late July.

    12. Watch for buzzwords: Natural, specialty, estate, artisan, local, and organic.

    Some farmers that will say their produce is organic, but in order to say that they must be certified by an organic agency, and undergo an inspection. You can always ask to see their organic certification. Most organic farmers are proud to display organic certification.

    13. The Internet has changed farm life for better.

    Customers from all over can keep connected to farm sites and Facebook pages, and can join mailing lists to hear about special crops, prices, CSA lists, and more.

    Sources: Nancy Gammons of Four Sisters Farm and Watsonville Farmers' Market, Ersilia Moreno owner of Olive Oil of the World, Adriana Silva owner of Tomatero Organic Farm, cowtownfarmersmarket.com, Mark Santoro owner of Gaia's Breath Farm


    Want to stay smart and healthy?

    Get our weekly Health Reads newsletter

    Sending Message
    how we use your e-mail

    Your Comments

    • Anonymous

      I’ve had good luck at farmers markets. I don’t know if it was exactly “local” or not, but most of the stuff was really good, and the prices weren’t extreme. I guess it depends on where you live. In TX and Oklahoma, sometimes the farmers will talk your ear off if you stop to buy stuff from them. Local honey is the best. 

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_SBKUDHUGEJRLGCVKXE4DIZMQMQ billzeiger91754

      Farmers Market:
      Monterey Park Library Parking lot 4:00-8:00 p.m.
      318 S. Ramona ave.
      Monterey Park Ca.

    • Daniel

      A lot people don’t experience farmer’s markets because they are too lazy to get out of bed.  They are too lazy because they lack energy, they lack energy because they don’t eat what is good for them.  The good Lord blessed us with bodies that will be filled with vim and vigor if fed properly.  It wont be fed properly from cans and processed foods.

    • Anal

      Avoid any brown zuccin; farmers get lonely too.

    • thankful harvest

      Great article.  It is important to realize that local small farmers need our support.  Without them, we would all be dependent on large factory farms, whose products can never match up to the quality of carefully and conscientiously  farmed local products. 

    • Stingerdawg

      do you get deals and free samples at supermarkets. i don’t think so.if you think they are rude it is because of people like you.

    • Baldrickgunn

      They won’t always give you a sample taste of what they are actually selling. They will cut up a better product from somewhere else and try to pass it off as their own. Always check to make sure fruit baskets are full if they are selling “by the basket.” Always ask for deals if you are buying large amounts. Check out all vendors (window shop) before you purchase anything. Many of the vendors pay extra for “prime spots” and pass the cost on to you.

    • Gracieheal

      Strange article…Not at all what I expected, given the title.  You communicate an underlying bitterness which I suppose is called for, considering all the work you do to set up and participate in a Farmer’s Market.   I just never encountered it before.   I patronize farmer’s markets to meet and chat with the usually kind and friendly “farmers” and their famuily / helpers.

      • Me

        No need to be bitter. After all, they want other people’s money!

    • Manjulaswaminathan

      It’s best to get here early

    • Anonymous

      I just p a i d $21 for an i P a d 2-64GB and my boyfriend loves his Panasonîc Lumîx GF 1 Camera that we got for $38 there arriving tomorrow by UPS.I will never pay such expensive retail prices in stores again. Especially when I also sold a 40 inch LED TV to my boss for $657 which only cost me $62 to buy.
      Here is the website we use to get it all from BídsFírst.Com