Farmers' Market Safety Tips and More

Articles
July 30, 2010

Farmers' Market Safety Tips and More

To avoid feeling overwhelmed or unprepared or leaving the market with a ton of produce that will end up rotting in your fridge, Supermarketguru.com has gathered some great tips for getting the most out of a trip to the farmers' market while minding food safety.

Farmers' market season is in full swing. Shopping at farmers' markets allows us to choose from fresh farm picked local produce, get to know our farmers and where our food is coming from, shop and eat seasonally and sometimes even score some great deals! To avoid feeling overwhelmed or unprepared or leaving the market with a ton of produce that will end up rotting in your fridge, Supermarketguru.com has gathered some great tips for getting the most out of a trip to the farmers' market while minding food safety.

Prepare ahead of time: Bring your own reusable tote bags or backpack for stashing fresh produce. Most vendors have plastic bags, but these are not as sturdy when stuffed with fresh veggies.

Bring cash, and change! Vendors appreciate small bills and having exact change expedites purchases. Some larger markets accept credit cards.

Arrive early and take your time: Early bird shoppers always get the first and best pick, take a lap around the entire market before making any purchases - this way you can scope out the best vendors with the best value.

Make a general list, but keep an open mind: plan recipes ahead of time but allow for substitutions - there will plenty of produce that you may want to include in your weekly meals, so don’t pass on it just because your recipe calls for another (similar) vegetable.

Don’t assume certified organic: Many farmers' market vendors do use traditional organic farming methods, but are not USDA certified. Look for the USDA stamp, and get to know your farmer. Making connections with the vendors allows you to understand what type of farming they practice, and they might have some great recipe suggestions as well.

If you know that you won’t be heading home straight from the market, bring an insulated bag or cooler so that foods won’t spoil in a warm car. Be especially careful with freshly-prepared fruit or vegetable products, such as hummus, salsa, and cut fruit salads. These can pose potential health risks if not handled correctly. Make sure they are refrigerated, both before and after the sale.

When you arrive home, refrigerate your purchases immediately and eat within days. If any freshly prepared fruit or vegetable products have not been properly refrigerated, they should not be eaten, and should be discarded.