Summer is the easiest time to buy your produce from local farmers, as there are a multitude of farmers markets happening all over the city on any given day. Buying local reduces the fuel costs necessary to bring the produce to your area, supports local farmers, and reduces the need for excess packaging. Additionally, buying fruits and vegetables that are currently in season means your produce will be as fresh as possible, and doesn’t need energy-intensive farming techniques that harm the environment. If you live in or near Chicago, click this link to see a schedule and an interactive map of when and where farmers markets are happening near you. If you’re outside the city, try a quick Google search for “farmers markets near me” and see what results fit into your schedule. Don’t forget your reusable bags!
Some Tips for your Trip to the Farmers’ Market:
- Plan Ahead: Check your fridge before you leave home to figure out what needs to be on your list.
- Be Flexible: It’s possible some crops may be short that day or season, so be prepared to substitute in case the exact item you’re looking for is not available.
- Ask questions! You’re getting your produce straight from the source at these events, so they know everything there is to know about the process. Also, if you’ve
never had an organic seeded grape and don’t know if you’ll like it, ask the person running the farm stand if you can try one before you buy a bushel. They’re proud
of their crops and want you to see how good they taste, so they’ll usually say yes!
- Bring cash: Many stands have an option to pay by card, but a lot of these markets take place outdoors where the Wi-Fi or electric hookup may not always be reliable.
It’s a good idea to have some cash on hand as this is still the preferred method of payment for most farm stands.
- Arrive early: If you want access to the freshest produce, most vibrant flowers, or artisanal bread still warm from the oven, you’ll want to get to the market closer
to when it opens. Unlike grocery stores that have additional stock in the back room, when a farm stand runs out of a particular item, they’re out of stock until the
next market day.
- Check out one (or all!) of your local farmers markets, and enjoy the best produce you’ll ever taste!