Shopping at a farmers market enables you will get the freshest produce available, while also supporting local farmers. Most of
In just a few hours, you support local farmers, entertain your family, and get to buy tasty food for some fabulous meals.
To make farmers market shopping easy, here are five tips for getting the most from the experience:
- Get to know your farmer. One of the greatest benefits of shopping at a farmers market is that you have the opportunity to get to know and build a relationship with the hard working Montanans that till the soil, feed Montanans, and maintain Montana's agricultural heritage.
- Bring your family and take your time. Farmers markets are a great chance to spend time with your family in the Montana sunshine, taking in the somewhat fair-like atmosphere as people circulate around the booths and local musicians play. Also, Montana families with electronic benefit transfer (EBT) cards can use them to purchase a wide range of goods at five farmers markets in Montana: Hamilton, Bozeman, Helena, and Missoula. Customers can use EBT funds to purchase produce, milk, meat, cheese, bread, candy and cold sandwiches. Cards also can be used for bedding plants and seeds to grow vegetable gardens. More information on this program is available at www.ncat.org.
- Go early. As word gets out and people expect to get quality homegrown produce and other products at Montana farmers markets, the best selections go first. Popular, but limited, items may even sell out before the day is done. However, for the best deals, go late. Farmers and other vendors usually prefer to discount products instead of taking them home.
- Experiment and get advice. Don't be afraid to try something new. If you find a vegetable that's new to you, ask the farmer how to prepare it. For the best tips, specifically ask how they like to eat it. You'll probably discover a new favorite fruit, vegetable, plant, flower, bread, or cheese that will make your experience even richer and sweeter. When you get home, consider searching the Internet for seasonal recipes for fruit and vegetables and you just might find a new favorite recipe.
- Bring your own bags and coolers. Although some farmers market vendors have bags and boxes, it's easiest if you bring your own reusable bags with handles. Besides buying local products,you are contributing to the most basic recycling by bringing your own bags. If you're traveling a long distance, make sure to have coolers with ice packs in your vehicle to keep your produce fresh and at its peak.