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Along with ice cream and the beach, shopping the Farmer’s Market on the weekend is one of my absolute favorite things to do in the summer! My sister and I always go to the the Atwater Village Farmer’s market in LA (I spend a lot of my summers there) and often visit the same vendors over and over. We load up on fresh produce, freshly hatched eggs and eat lots yummy snacks along the way like homemade pupusas with agua fresca, freshly popped kettle corn. But best of all, we get to enjoy a beautiful day outdoors which is so much fun. Read on to hear the many reasons why you should be shopping your local farmer’s market too plus my top tips for making the most of your experience!

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Super fresh food: You’re getting the freshest, ripest foods, straight from the farm and it’s being sold to you immediately after harvest. Food from a conventional grocery store usually sit for weeks when you factor in long distance shipping and other post-harvest processes.

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You know what you’re eating. You know exactly where the food is coming from and have the opportunity to talk directly with the farmers to learn more about how the food you’re consuming was produced.

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It’s healthier and it tastes better! Locally grown foods are often organic, non GMO, free of pesticides and contain more nutrients than conventionally grown produce. And, since you’re getting fresh, seasonal food straight from the farm, it just tastes better! The difference in flavor of what you buy from the farmer’s market vs a conventional grocery store is incredible.

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You get a better value: By purchasing direct from farmer’s you’re cutting out the middle man so you often end up saving money. Plus the quality of the food is far greater so you’re also getting a much better value compared to what you’ll find in a supermarket.

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It’s fun! You get to spend a lovely, leisurely day outdoors on a gorgeous summer day, tasting foods and shopping. What’s better than that?!

Hopefully by now you’re inspired to get out and get to your local farmer’s market or maybe you’re already going so I wanted to share a few tips to help you navigate the market with ease and get the most bang for your buck…

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Bring cash. A lot of farmer’s market vendors are now accepting Square or other credit card readers but its always good to have cash for those vendors who prefer good old fashioned green. You also may be able to bargain if you’re paying with cash and small bills are best for buying smaller items. 

Bring a tote. Farmer’s markets by nature are “green” so it’s always a good idea to bring a reusable cotton tote to carry away your groceries in. Plus, a lot of farmer’s markets are now going plastic bag free so bringing your own is a requirement.

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Get to know the vendors. It’s a simple concept but if you get to know the vendors, they’ll be extra nice to you! Sometime’s they may throw you freebies and I’ve even had vendors tell me I could pay them back next week if I was short on cash! Building relationships are invaluable.

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Spy before you buy: When you arrive, it’s always a good idea to take a lap around and make mental notes on the items you’re interested in. You’ll get a good sense of everything that’s available and also have an opportunity to compare prices and consider all of your options. 

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Go early or go late depending on your goals. If you want to avoid crowds and get the best selection, go early, when the market is just opening. You’ll also get the best selection during the early hours. If you want to get the best deals, go towards the end of the day when vendors are more anxious to get rid of their last batch of goods.

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Dress comfortably. I usually speed through the market but if you’re planning on staying a while it’s a good idea to dress comfortable and wear shoes that are comfy to walk in. And don’t forget your sunscreen!

Portraits by Gina B. DeMarco / Food photos by Nicole Gibbons

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