Discover Your Local Farmers’ Market
#4 USE ALL YOUR SENSES, INCLUDING “COMMON”
Trust your judgment, even if you are a neophyte, says Mimi Sheraton, food journalist and former New York Times food critic. She adds, “If money is no object, you may opt for the free-range chickens raised on a diet of organic flax seed, which can cost as much as $40. But for the rest of us, the farm-raised $10 chickens can be fine.”
LOOK - Walk around the entire market before buying so you can compare quality.
SMELL- If something doesn’t smell fresh (especially fish!), walk away.
TASTE- Many farmers offer samples at their booth. If not readily available, ask!
TOUCH- Remember how your grandmother would squeeze each and every melon until she found the perfect one? Go ahead, (gently) feel around for the flawlessly ripe peach.
LISTEN – Is there a buzz around some booths, but not others? Is the farmer interacting with customers, answering questions, offering advice? Or is a worker standing there, looking bored?
#5 PROTECT YOUR INVESTMENT
You want to make sure everything makes it home in one piece. Bring some containers for berries, stone fruits, and soft cheeses because sometimes the display baskets at the booths are kept by the farmers. If you are not heading home right away, bring an insulated bag and freezer pack for perishables like dairy, meat or fish.
#6 USE WHAT YOU BUY AND BUY WHAT YOU USE
After you purchase everything on your list, let yourself be seduced by one or two unusual items. How about trying baby eggplant (spookies) or Rossa di Treviso radicchio? Don’t know how to use it? Many greenmarkets have information booths, which are set up specifically to help shoppers learn. And they hold cooking demos on how to use some of the more unusual vegetables you will see.
For recipe ideas once you get home with your bounty, visit www.greenmarketrecipes.com. In addition, there are also many “greenmarket cookbooks,” such as The Greenmarket Cookbook by Joel Patraker and Joan Schwartz and The Greenmarket Baking Book by Laura C. Martin. Both available from amazon.com.
One important thing to remember after all of this: The goal of your visit to a greenmarket is to enjoy experiencing your food, from start to finish.
To your health!