By Ettie Berneking, reprinted with permission from April 2013 edition of 417 Magazine
A few 417 Magazine staffers who frequent local farmers' markets share their shopping tips.
• Bring Your Own Bags. Markets are all about being green and reusable bags are a terrific way to transport groceries without taking up too much room in your car. If you really want to be prepared, bring a basket which helps prevent bruising and smushing of your goodies.
• Arrive at an Appropriate Time for Your Needs. Late-comers often have less selection, but if selection isn’t a big concern, arriving late can often mean lower prices.
• Wear Walking Shoes. The market is not the place to worry about keeping up with the latest fashion trends. Dress comfortably, and wear shoes that allow you to walk on gravel, dirt or pavement.
• Bring Cash. While some markets are starting to take credit and debit cards, not every market has adopted that amenity. To be on the safe side, always bring plenty of cash and small bills to the market- even if it says it takes debit.
• Get to Know the Farmers. Farmers often have great recipes and tips for using their produce.
• Ask What You’re Buying. Maybe you’re looking for organic produce, or hydroponic tomatoes, or beef that was raised on non-GMO grains. It’s all buyers’ preference, so get to the market knowing what it is you’re looking for.
• Walk a Loop. If you spend a little time checking out prices and quality, you can often find a terrific deal. While farmers’ markets are heavily focused on supporting local farmers, they are also running a business, so prices may vary.
• Keep Your Dog on a Leash. Most markets are super dog friendly, but when they’re busy and there are multiple pooches walking around, it’s safer for everyone if your dog is leashed up.
• Always Take Home One Item You’ve Never Tried Before. Farmers’ markets are a great place to pick up unusual produce, and researching new dishes is a great way to expand your cooking know-how.
Hope to see you at the Cedar County Farmers’ Market-El Dorado Springs 1317 S. Hwy 32, El Dorado Springs, Saturday mornings 8 a.m.- noon.