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5 Tips for Shopping at Farmers' Markets

'Whether you’re new to the farmers' market scene or you’ve been shopping locally for years, it never hurts to consider tips to improve your shopping experience. Ready to up your ante at the farmers' market this weekend? Follow these tips!

  1. Get to know your local growers. Before you invest in the next weeks’ worth of meals from the farmers' market, take some time to get to know the growers you’re purchasing from. A trustworthy farmer will not hesitate to discuss their crops with you, nor will they shoot down questions about how the food was grown. This is the perfect opportunity to learn more about the food you’re buying and the way it was grown – it’s even a great opportunity to ask for preparation tips and cooking suggestions!
  2. Buy seasonal fruits and vegetables. The best way to get the most for you money at the farmers' market is to know what’s in season before you go. Foods sold at the peak of their seasonal growth will be packed with nutrients and vitamins that might be stripped away at chain grocery stores and shopping centers.​
  3. Ask why something isn’t certified organic before discounting it. Although this may sound counterintuitive, consider the following: Just because a food isn’t certified organic doesn’t mean it’s covered in pesticides! Most small, local farms tend to their crops utilizing strict, organic practices that surpass the expectations of the USDA; however, they may lack the financial means necessary to secure government certification of this nature. Don’t rule out a farmer whose practices may be on par – if not better – than other certified organic growers.
  4. Recognize that not everything at the farmer’s market is healthy. Just because a particular food is sold at a local market does not make it healthy. In fact, many farmers' markets are filled with food trucks that offer fried foods and other processed items. For safe, healthy options, stick to the fruit and vegetable stands.
  5. Do a lap around the market before making a purchase. At most farmers' markets, you’ll find several vendors selling the same foods. Take this as an opportunity to taste test, compare prices, and ask about growing practices. Survey the situation before you decide which vendor you want to purchase your food from for the next week.

At AHMC Anaheim Regional Medical Center, we believe that healthy living starts with the food we put into our bodies, and we encourage our patients to shop at local farmer’s markets in the area. If you need help getting started, visit OC Farmers Markets for a list of local farmer’s markets in Orange County.