When’s the last time you visited your local Farmer’s Market? What? You’ve never been? Well, chances are, unless you live on a farm, you just won’t find fresher fruits and vegetables anywhere else. But produce is only the beginning. Offerings at the average farmer’s market can also include homegrown meats, cheeses, baked goods, preserves, honey … the sky’s the limit.

Here are a few tips to make your first trip to the green market the perfect experience:

Check the schedule. Once you locate your nearest market, be sure to check their hours. Not many operate full-time and you don’t want to get all the way there only to find an empty parking lot.

Ask questions. Want to know if his product is certified organic? Ask. Want to know about her pest control methods? Ask. The more you visit the market and learn about the products, the more you’ll know what questions to ask. Don’t be shy.

Go early. If you want first pick or to guarantee that what you seek will still be in ample supply, plan to arrive when the market is just opening.

Go late. Yes, you read that right. Because vendors don’t want to pack everything up and bring it back home, the later customers often get to take advantage of discounted prices.

Look, smell, listen, touch and, best of all, taste! A green market is a very interactive experience. Visitors are welcome and even encouraged to look around, handle and, yes, taste just about anything.

Transport carefully. These delicate delectables are typically sold in minimal packaging so bring some of your own to get everything home safely. Planning to buy refrigerated goods? A small cooler is the perfect receptacle to preserve and protect.

According to the USDA, the number of farmer’s markets in the nation has quadrupled in the last twenty years. Currently, there are more than 8,000 locations across the country. And growing!

Seriously, what’s keeping you?

by Michele Robert Poche

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