FMC Shares Market Shopping Tips at

      Posted On: May 19, 2009

…in an on-line article on May 8th, Rodale writer Leah Zerbe reveals the basics of finding value at farmers markets :

Save money on healthy food at the farmer’s market:

• Get mail from a farmer. Buying food directly from a local farmer who doesn’t use pesticides and synthetic fertilizers is a win-win situation. It keeps money circulating within your community, keeps dangerous chemicals out of your water supply, and keeps costs low because you’re cutting out the middleman and excess transportation. Subscribe to your farmer’s market newsletter, if it offers one. It will let you to know in advance what foods you might expect, and allow to plan your meals for the week around what’s in season and most abundant. Check a local newspaper or visit Local Harvest to find a farmer’s market in your area.

• Load up at the market for a fatter wallet. Buy larger quantities of fruits and vegetables when the produce is at its peak and, thus, less expensive, and learn how to freeze, dry, or can it. “Food preservation is becoming vogue again, and there are a number of step-by-step resources online that can help you learn how to make the most of fresh peak-season produce,” says Stacy M. Miller, executive director of Farmers Market Coalition. Remember, you can use glass containers when you freeze or can to avoid plastic chemicals leeching into your preserved food.

You can also buy meat in bulk—but consider spacing out those meat-heavy meals. Studies have shown that people who eat more red and processed meats don’t live as long. Buying a quarter of an animal is, pound for pound, much cheaper than buying a few select cuts, Miller says.

• Make a list with backups. “Make a list of what you want to buy ahead of time, just like you do at a department or grocery store,” suggests Miller. “But remember to be flexible within food groups. Those killer hearth-baked baguettes might be sold out when you arrive, but that doesn’t mean you need to go buy the Safeway version. Consider a couple pounds of new potatoes from a different vendor instead.”

• Save a few bucks for something new. As you make your list, plan to spend within a certain range. If possible, plan to set aside a few dollars to buy something new and unexpected, say, mushrooms or a new kind of cheese. This keeps things fun!

Save money on healthy food at the farmer’s market (cont’d):

• Cook with the seasons. If you tend to shop by recipe, find a cookbook that pairs ingredients by season so you’re not faced with the quandary of trying to buy two seasonally mismatched things at the same time, such as asparagus (early spring) and peaches (late summer). Miller recommends Simply In Season (World Community Cookbook) (Herald Press, 2005), and Local Flavors: Cooking and Eating from America’s Farmers’ Markets(Broadway, 2008).

• Keep vendors’ costs down. If you bring your own reusable bags and return clean containers, such as quart baskets and egg cartons, you’ll keep costs down for farmers so they can pass along the savings to you. Some dairy farmers at markets sell milk in returnable glass bottles and give you a discount on a new bottle each time you return an empty one.

…Read the full article text at