My good friend, hautemealer, and foodie extraordinaire, Di Anderson, is small market/local market guru (some might say it’s an obsession, but not me – I want her to keep writing for us…) Just yesterday she was taunting me with fresh, locally grown asparagus from her neighborhood produce stand…and, yes, I’m going to have to go get some!
So, here’s an article that Di was kind enough to put together especially for hautemealz.com, on making the most of your local Saturday Markets…
Her timing is perfect, as many of them, especially here in the Pacific Northwest, are just opening up for the season!
To Market! To Market!
by Guest Blogger – Diane Anderson
I’m excited for all the signs of spring I see and hear and smell each day. I know that with the arrival of the warmer weather, the Saturday Market will start again. I enjoy purchasing fresh fruit, vegetables, nuts, and meats directly from local farmers. Then, I use them in meals throughout the week or I can or freeze the extras.
The first Saturday of May brings the beginning of my small town’s Saturday market. I love browsing the farmer’s stalls to find fresh produce at wonderful prices. I hope I’ll see my favorite family back this year with their yummy seasonal fruits and veggies. Also, the teenagers from a high school gardening club should be back with their produce and crafts. I love supporting their endeavors. Yesterday, the market organizers announced that there will be new farmers at the market this year. Should be fun getting to know them!
When I first get to the market, I do a quick browse through of all the stalls to check the produce and the prices. Then, I go back around to make my purchases. Produce is often up to ½ the price of the grocery stores and it’s fresher—often picked that morning!
I usually carry reusable market bags with me (some vendors will have bags, but don’t rely on that).
It’s good to carry at least two bags to prevent delicate produce from being crushed. If you’re visiting a very busy, larger, market, you’ll want to arrive early as I’ve heard local restaurants purchase the best stuff very early.
I have been to a large market in my area and did not enjoy it because of the crowded conditions and the difficulty in seeing the produce and prices.
I prefer the smaller ones and believe the prices are better.
Many vendors do not have credit card machines (they might in the larger, more established markets), so bring cash. I have a foster parent friend who received WIC vouchers to use at produce vendors in some Saturday markets. So, if you qualify, please check with the WIC office for more information.
I’ve found that it’s good to bring some extra cash in case there is something special to try. Last year, my two surprise finds were Toggensoft cheese from a local goat farm and artisan breads from a small bakery. Together, and separately, they were excellent.
I loved putting a garlic cheese under the skin on some chicken thighs and baking them. It was so good! Then, we enjoyed eating the leftover chicken as sandwiches with the bread.
So, be adventurous this summer and check out the Saturday markets near you!
Most of all, you’ll have fun exploring and learning more about your community!
Not sure where to find your local markets? Give your local Chamber of Commerce a call – they’ll know. Here’s a great online listing, as well, where you can search by city or zip-code.