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10 Farmer's Market Rules To Swear By

Posted: 07/30/2012 6:52 pm

2012-07-25-produce.jpg

Photo by: Zach DeSart

By Andrew Knowlton, Bon Appétit

Dear Foodist: Farmers' markets in August can be as crazy as a mall before Christmas. What are your rules to shop by?

Now that just about every town boasts a market, it's a good time to clarify some guidelines:

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  • Don't Hassle The Farmer About Price

    Yes, eggs, milk, and produce are more expensive than at the supermarket. But where else can you get just-laid eggs with bright-orange yolks, milk capped with cream, and vegetables that go beyond garden variety? What's more, the taste is exponentially better. So don't hassle the farmer about price. <em>Photo via Flickr user <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/merydith/5411535896/" target="_hplink">Will Merydith</a></em>

  • Don't Squeeze!

    We all want beautiful corn, tomatoes, and peaches, but that doesn't give you the right to shuck, squeeze, and poke every single one in search of perfection. <em>Photo via Flickr user <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/tabor-roeder/5995926519/" target="_hplink">Phil Roeder</a></em>

  • Bring Reusable Bags

    When it comes to plastic, let me just say: Bring your own %*!)@ bags. <em>Photo via Flickr user <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/caitlinator/3712769731/" target="_hplink">Caitlinator</a></em>

  • Pets?

    Leave the dog at home. <em>Photo via Flickr user <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/evanblaser/5573908825/" target="_hplink">eblaser</a></em>

  • Special Requests

    Unless it grows in your region, don't expect to find it at your local market. Of course, if you live in California, you can ask for anything... <em>Photo via Flickr user <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/clayirving/2704634774/" target="_hplink">clayirving</a></em>

  • Experiment!

    Each visit, buy one ingredient you're unfamiliar with -- perhaps garlic scapes, fava beans, or pattypan squash. It'll make you a better cook. <em>Photo via Flickr user <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/bhamsandwich/4598527369/" target="_hplink">bhamsandwich</a></em>

  • Timing

    To shop like a chef, go right when the market opens. You'll have your pick of produce. Bargain hunters go 30 minutes before closing, when many stands offer discounts. <em>Photo via Flickr user <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/ncindc/2773664173/" target="_hplink">NCinDC</a></em>

  • Free Samples

    I love free tastes of peaches, too, but they're samples, not meals. Leave some for others.

  • Explore!

    If you're new to a market, walk around before buying: You might find a better selection a few booths away. After you've shopped there a few times, get to know your farmers: Not only will you get cooking advice, you'll feel more connected to your food. <em>Photo via Flickr user <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/edsel_/5768004075/" target="_hplink">Edsel L</a></em>

  • Payment

    Want to be a farmer's best friend? Bring small bills and change. <em>Photo via Flickr user <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/jmsmith000/3466349463/" target="_hplink">JSmith Photo</a></em>


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