Faux fruits and veggiesJulia Sudnitskaya/Shutterstock
Farmers markets are hugely popular. So much so that the prices can be a bit steep—here are some secrets to getting deals at farmers’ markets. The setting is ideal: You can get a bit of fresh air, find fresh, local produce, and meet the people who actually grew the food. However, there’s a little trouble in paradise: An NBC Los Angeles exposé found some of the “farms” where the produce was sourced were actually empty dirt plots or weed-covered patches. Some of the produce came from a wholesale warehouse. And when the station tested pesticide-free strawberries, sure enough, there were traces of pesticides.
How do you know if you can trust in your farmers market? Rest assured that most of the time, the markets are above board. “Trust is the key to a market’s success and why the farmers market field has dedicated so much time and energy to advocating for transparency,” says the Farmers Market Coalition (FMC). “Honest farmers lose when they have to compete with vendors who are cutting corners and shoppers lose when they are misled. Successful farmers markets make sure that doesn’t happen.”
Feel good about your next farmers’ market experience by watching for these problem tip-offs.
The produce isn’t in seasonMeng Chatchai/Shutterstock
“If you live in a snow state and are seeing bananas and pineapples in December, you can be confident that that farmer was unable to produce that product themselves,” says the FMC.
The FMC notes that many state departments of agriculture and other organizations publish “produce availability guides.” Such guides allow consumers to track what’s in season in their region. Here’s a guide to seasonal produce you can check out.
Sticking a guide on your refrigerator is a great way to buy the right produce at the ripest time. And it will help remember what’s not in season.