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Tips on Shopping at the Farmers Market

Tips on Shopping at the Farmers Market


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I shop at the farmers markets at least once a week and up to three times a week. I live in between the Columbia University and the 97th Street markets on Manhattan’s west side. In the last three years, I've watched them grow from an apple stand and a baker to real, usable destinations, which have nearly displaced the grocery store entirely (for me anyhow). I buy most of our food at the market -- dairy, meat, produce, cheese, pasta, eggs, grains -- and fill in gaps at the grocery store.

While I love New York's Union Square Greenmarket, it can be incredibly overwhelming especially for those who are new to the market scene. There are so many people, I find myself having to go with the crowd rather than leisurely strolling from stand to stand. However, there's also an incredible variety of products and purveyors at Union Square so I recommend arriving early. When baby girl was a colicky newborn, I'd head down there at 8 a.m. just to have something to do. It turned out to be the golden hour before the crowds and before everything sold out.

How to Plan for the Greenmarket

I don't usually carry a recipe or even have one in mind. For me, it's all about seeing what's fresh and then, once I've gotten a feel for what's available, putting a meal together. I once chatted with Nach Waxman, owner of the fabulous Kitchen Arts & Letters bookstore on the Upper East Side, and he said, when Americans are deciding what to eat, they think, what do I want to eat? For Europeans, they think what do I have to cook with?

I think seasonal eating is all about the European philosophy, using what's on hand and working from there. That being said, I had an urge to make spaghetti with meatballs the other day and shopped the market almost single-mindedly so there are exceptions to every rule.

How to Navigate the Greenmarket

My general strategy at any farmers market is to walk through the market first, see what's available and compare prices. I have certain go-to stands I hit first and move on from there. At 97th street, among others, I worship Ray Bradley and his offerings. While he isn't certified organic, his produce is raised free and clear and his eggs and pork are pastured. The friendlier I've gotten with the farmers, I've realized just how willing they are to share their ideas.

A few weeks ago, Rick Lofstad of Pura Vida Fisheries described a Spanish fish casserole comprised of flounder, potatoes, parsely and other ingredients. I found myself immediately inspired and rushed all over the market scoring ingredients. It was amazing and will soon be up on Almost Slowfood. I would never have thought of a fish casserole otherwise. I recommend going slowly at the market and chatting up each farmer. Ask him or her how the produce is raised: is it organic, is it sprayed, low spray, high spray, how are the animals raised, are they pastured. Once you find a few who share your philosophy, the market will become a cozy place where you feel comfortable and you'll know exactly what you're eating, where it came from and how it was raised.

Click here to see the Tips on Shopping at the Farmers Market Slideshow


Tips for Shopping at the Farmers Market One of my favorite things about summer is going to my local farmers market for delicious, fresh fruits and vegetables. I grow some of my own tomatoes and herbs on my patio, but I don’t have the space to do much more than that. The farmers market has a huge variety and the food is as fresh as if I had grown it myself. Shopping at the farmers market is different than the grocery store so here are some tips for readers who may not have given it a try before or found it to be overwhelming. Bring your own bag. The farmers will appreciate it and having a bag that can go on your shoulder will help keep your hands free. I use a backpack! Get to know your local farmers. They will help you choose the best they have to offer and will have good suggestions for cooking and preparing the fruits and veggies as well. Beware the “health halo”. Many vendors sell delicious baked goods like donuts and pies. My market has vendors that sell fabulous international foods like Salvadoran Pupusas and Vietnamese spring rolls. Yum! Indulging in these treats can be a fun part of going to the farmers market, but keep in mind that just because they are sold at the farmers market doesn’t mean they are as healthy as the fruits and veggies at the neighboring vendors. Try something new! My farmers market sells some fruits and vegetables that I can’t find at the grocery store. I try a few new things each summer like different types of tomatoes, beets, greens and squash. Learn about what forms of payment are accepted. Many farmers accept food assistance EBT as well as WIC benefits. You may see a sign at the farmer’s booth indicating they accept these forms of payment. In Iowa the signs will look like this. Enjoy your farmers market this summer and share your finds with us on Facebook!

Christine Hradek

Christine Hradek is a State Nutrition Specialist with Iowa State University Extension and Outreach. She coordinates ISU’s programs which help families with low income make healthy choices with limited food budgets. Christine loves helping families learn to prepare healthy foods, have fun in the kitchen and save money. In her spare time, Christine enjoys cooking, entertaining and cheering on her favorite college football teams with her family and friends.


Tips for Shopping at the Farmers Market One of my favorite things about summer is going to my local farmers market for delicious, fresh fruits and vegetables. I grow some of my own tomatoes and herbs on my patio, but I don’t have the space to do much more than that. The farmers market has a huge variety and the food is as fresh as if I had grown it myself. Shopping at the farmers market is different than the grocery store so here are some tips for readers who may not have given it a try before or found it to be overwhelming. Bring your own bag. The farmers will appreciate it and having a bag that can go on your shoulder will help keep your hands free. I use a backpack! Get to know your local farmers. They will help you choose the best they have to offer and will have good suggestions for cooking and preparing the fruits and veggies as well. Beware the “health halo”. Many vendors sell delicious baked goods like donuts and pies. My market has vendors that sell fabulous international foods like Salvadoran Pupusas and Vietnamese spring rolls. Yum! Indulging in these treats can be a fun part of going to the farmers market, but keep in mind that just because they are sold at the farmers market doesn’t mean they are as healthy as the fruits and veggies at the neighboring vendors. Try something new! My farmers market sells some fruits and vegetables that I can’t find at the grocery store. I try a few new things each summer like different types of tomatoes, beets, greens and squash. Learn about what forms of payment are accepted. Many farmers accept food assistance EBT as well as WIC benefits. You may see a sign at the farmer’s booth indicating they accept these forms of payment. In Iowa the signs will look like this. Enjoy your farmers market this summer and share your finds with us on Facebook!

Christine Hradek

Christine Hradek is a State Nutrition Specialist with Iowa State University Extension and Outreach. She coordinates ISU’s programs which help families with low income make healthy choices with limited food budgets. Christine loves helping families learn to prepare healthy foods, have fun in the kitchen and save money. In her spare time, Christine enjoys cooking, entertaining and cheering on her favorite college football teams with her family and friends.


Tips for Shopping at the Farmers Market One of my favorite things about summer is going to my local farmers market for delicious, fresh fruits and vegetables. I grow some of my own tomatoes and herbs on my patio, but I don’t have the space to do much more than that. The farmers market has a huge variety and the food is as fresh as if I had grown it myself. Shopping at the farmers market is different than the grocery store so here are some tips for readers who may not have given it a try before or found it to be overwhelming. Bring your own bag. The farmers will appreciate it and having a bag that can go on your shoulder will help keep your hands free. I use a backpack! Get to know your local farmers. They will help you choose the best they have to offer and will have good suggestions for cooking and preparing the fruits and veggies as well. Beware the “health halo”. Many vendors sell delicious baked goods like donuts and pies. My market has vendors that sell fabulous international foods like Salvadoran Pupusas and Vietnamese spring rolls. Yum! Indulging in these treats can be a fun part of going to the farmers market, but keep in mind that just because they are sold at the farmers market doesn’t mean they are as healthy as the fruits and veggies at the neighboring vendors. Try something new! My farmers market sells some fruits and vegetables that I can’t find at the grocery store. I try a few new things each summer like different types of tomatoes, beets, greens and squash. Learn about what forms of payment are accepted. Many farmers accept food assistance EBT as well as WIC benefits. You may see a sign at the farmer’s booth indicating they accept these forms of payment. In Iowa the signs will look like this. Enjoy your farmers market this summer and share your finds with us on Facebook!

Christine Hradek

Christine Hradek is a State Nutrition Specialist with Iowa State University Extension and Outreach. She coordinates ISU’s programs which help families with low income make healthy choices with limited food budgets. Christine loves helping families learn to prepare healthy foods, have fun in the kitchen and save money. In her spare time, Christine enjoys cooking, entertaining and cheering on her favorite college football teams with her family and friends.


Tips for Shopping at the Farmers Market One of my favorite things about summer is going to my local farmers market for delicious, fresh fruits and vegetables. I grow some of my own tomatoes and herbs on my patio, but I don’t have the space to do much more than that. The farmers market has a huge variety and the food is as fresh as if I had grown it myself. Shopping at the farmers market is different than the grocery store so here are some tips for readers who may not have given it a try before or found it to be overwhelming. Bring your own bag. The farmers will appreciate it and having a bag that can go on your shoulder will help keep your hands free. I use a backpack! Get to know your local farmers. They will help you choose the best they have to offer and will have good suggestions for cooking and preparing the fruits and veggies as well. Beware the “health halo”. Many vendors sell delicious baked goods like donuts and pies. My market has vendors that sell fabulous international foods like Salvadoran Pupusas and Vietnamese spring rolls. Yum! Indulging in these treats can be a fun part of going to the farmers market, but keep in mind that just because they are sold at the farmers market doesn’t mean they are as healthy as the fruits and veggies at the neighboring vendors. Try something new! My farmers market sells some fruits and vegetables that I can’t find at the grocery store. I try a few new things each summer like different types of tomatoes, beets, greens and squash. Learn about what forms of payment are accepted. Many farmers accept food assistance EBT as well as WIC benefits. You may see a sign at the farmer’s booth indicating they accept these forms of payment. In Iowa the signs will look like this. Enjoy your farmers market this summer and share your finds with us on Facebook!

Christine Hradek

Christine Hradek is a State Nutrition Specialist with Iowa State University Extension and Outreach. She coordinates ISU’s programs which help families with low income make healthy choices with limited food budgets. Christine loves helping families learn to prepare healthy foods, have fun in the kitchen and save money. In her spare time, Christine enjoys cooking, entertaining and cheering on her favorite college football teams with her family and friends.


Tips for Shopping at the Farmers Market One of my favorite things about summer is going to my local farmers market for delicious, fresh fruits and vegetables. I grow some of my own tomatoes and herbs on my patio, but I don’t have the space to do much more than that. The farmers market has a huge variety and the food is as fresh as if I had grown it myself. Shopping at the farmers market is different than the grocery store so here are some tips for readers who may not have given it a try before or found it to be overwhelming. Bring your own bag. The farmers will appreciate it and having a bag that can go on your shoulder will help keep your hands free. I use a backpack! Get to know your local farmers. They will help you choose the best they have to offer and will have good suggestions for cooking and preparing the fruits and veggies as well. Beware the “health halo”. Many vendors sell delicious baked goods like donuts and pies. My market has vendors that sell fabulous international foods like Salvadoran Pupusas and Vietnamese spring rolls. Yum! Indulging in these treats can be a fun part of going to the farmers market, but keep in mind that just because they are sold at the farmers market doesn’t mean they are as healthy as the fruits and veggies at the neighboring vendors. Try something new! My farmers market sells some fruits and vegetables that I can’t find at the grocery store. I try a few new things each summer like different types of tomatoes, beets, greens and squash. Learn about what forms of payment are accepted. Many farmers accept food assistance EBT as well as WIC benefits. You may see a sign at the farmer’s booth indicating they accept these forms of payment. In Iowa the signs will look like this. Enjoy your farmers market this summer and share your finds with us on Facebook!

Christine Hradek

Christine Hradek is a State Nutrition Specialist with Iowa State University Extension and Outreach. She coordinates ISU’s programs which help families with low income make healthy choices with limited food budgets. Christine loves helping families learn to prepare healthy foods, have fun in the kitchen and save money. In her spare time, Christine enjoys cooking, entertaining and cheering on her favorite college football teams with her family and friends.


Tips for Shopping at the Farmers Market One of my favorite things about summer is going to my local farmers market for delicious, fresh fruits and vegetables. I grow some of my own tomatoes and herbs on my patio, but I don’t have the space to do much more than that. The farmers market has a huge variety and the food is as fresh as if I had grown it myself. Shopping at the farmers market is different than the grocery store so here are some tips for readers who may not have given it a try before or found it to be overwhelming. Bring your own bag. The farmers will appreciate it and having a bag that can go on your shoulder will help keep your hands free. I use a backpack! Get to know your local farmers. They will help you choose the best they have to offer and will have good suggestions for cooking and preparing the fruits and veggies as well. Beware the “health halo”. Many vendors sell delicious baked goods like donuts and pies. My market has vendors that sell fabulous international foods like Salvadoran Pupusas and Vietnamese spring rolls. Yum! Indulging in these treats can be a fun part of going to the farmers market, but keep in mind that just because they are sold at the farmers market doesn’t mean they are as healthy as the fruits and veggies at the neighboring vendors. Try something new! My farmers market sells some fruits and vegetables that I can’t find at the grocery store. I try a few new things each summer like different types of tomatoes, beets, greens and squash. Learn about what forms of payment are accepted. Many farmers accept food assistance EBT as well as WIC benefits. You may see a sign at the farmer’s booth indicating they accept these forms of payment. In Iowa the signs will look like this. Enjoy your farmers market this summer and share your finds with us on Facebook!

Christine Hradek

Christine Hradek is a State Nutrition Specialist with Iowa State University Extension and Outreach. She coordinates ISU’s programs which help families with low income make healthy choices with limited food budgets. Christine loves helping families learn to prepare healthy foods, have fun in the kitchen and save money. In her spare time, Christine enjoys cooking, entertaining and cheering on her favorite college football teams with her family and friends.


Tips for Shopping at the Farmers Market One of my favorite things about summer is going to my local farmers market for delicious, fresh fruits and vegetables. I grow some of my own tomatoes and herbs on my patio, but I don’t have the space to do much more than that. The farmers market has a huge variety and the food is as fresh as if I had grown it myself. Shopping at the farmers market is different than the grocery store so here are some tips for readers who may not have given it a try before or found it to be overwhelming. Bring your own bag. The farmers will appreciate it and having a bag that can go on your shoulder will help keep your hands free. I use a backpack! Get to know your local farmers. They will help you choose the best they have to offer and will have good suggestions for cooking and preparing the fruits and veggies as well. Beware the “health halo”. Many vendors sell delicious baked goods like donuts and pies. My market has vendors that sell fabulous international foods like Salvadoran Pupusas and Vietnamese spring rolls. Yum! Indulging in these treats can be a fun part of going to the farmers market, but keep in mind that just because they are sold at the farmers market doesn’t mean they are as healthy as the fruits and veggies at the neighboring vendors. Try something new! My farmers market sells some fruits and vegetables that I can’t find at the grocery store. I try a few new things each summer like different types of tomatoes, beets, greens and squash. Learn about what forms of payment are accepted. Many farmers accept food assistance EBT as well as WIC benefits. You may see a sign at the farmer’s booth indicating they accept these forms of payment. In Iowa the signs will look like this. Enjoy your farmers market this summer and share your finds with us on Facebook!

Christine Hradek

Christine Hradek is a State Nutrition Specialist with Iowa State University Extension and Outreach. She coordinates ISU’s programs which help families with low income make healthy choices with limited food budgets. Christine loves helping families learn to prepare healthy foods, have fun in the kitchen and save money. In her spare time, Christine enjoys cooking, entertaining and cheering on her favorite college football teams with her family and friends.


Tips for Shopping at the Farmers Market One of my favorite things about summer is going to my local farmers market for delicious, fresh fruits and vegetables. I grow some of my own tomatoes and herbs on my patio, but I don’t have the space to do much more than that. The farmers market has a huge variety and the food is as fresh as if I had grown it myself. Shopping at the farmers market is different than the grocery store so here are some tips for readers who may not have given it a try before or found it to be overwhelming. Bring your own bag. The farmers will appreciate it and having a bag that can go on your shoulder will help keep your hands free. I use a backpack! Get to know your local farmers. They will help you choose the best they have to offer and will have good suggestions for cooking and preparing the fruits and veggies as well. Beware the “health halo”. Many vendors sell delicious baked goods like donuts and pies. My market has vendors that sell fabulous international foods like Salvadoran Pupusas and Vietnamese spring rolls. Yum! Indulging in these treats can be a fun part of going to the farmers market, but keep in mind that just because they are sold at the farmers market doesn’t mean they are as healthy as the fruits and veggies at the neighboring vendors. Try something new! My farmers market sells some fruits and vegetables that I can’t find at the grocery store. I try a few new things each summer like different types of tomatoes, beets, greens and squash. Learn about what forms of payment are accepted. Many farmers accept food assistance EBT as well as WIC benefits. You may see a sign at the farmer’s booth indicating they accept these forms of payment. In Iowa the signs will look like this. Enjoy your farmers market this summer and share your finds with us on Facebook!

Christine Hradek

Christine Hradek is a State Nutrition Specialist with Iowa State University Extension and Outreach. She coordinates ISU’s programs which help families with low income make healthy choices with limited food budgets. Christine loves helping families learn to prepare healthy foods, have fun in the kitchen and save money. In her spare time, Christine enjoys cooking, entertaining and cheering on her favorite college football teams with her family and friends.


Tips for Shopping at the Farmers Market One of my favorite things about summer is going to my local farmers market for delicious, fresh fruits and vegetables. I grow some of my own tomatoes and herbs on my patio, but I don’t have the space to do much more than that. The farmers market has a huge variety and the food is as fresh as if I had grown it myself. Shopping at the farmers market is different than the grocery store so here are some tips for readers who may not have given it a try before or found it to be overwhelming. Bring your own bag. The farmers will appreciate it and having a bag that can go on your shoulder will help keep your hands free. I use a backpack! Get to know your local farmers. They will help you choose the best they have to offer and will have good suggestions for cooking and preparing the fruits and veggies as well. Beware the “health halo”. Many vendors sell delicious baked goods like donuts and pies. My market has vendors that sell fabulous international foods like Salvadoran Pupusas and Vietnamese spring rolls. Yum! Indulging in these treats can be a fun part of going to the farmers market, but keep in mind that just because they are sold at the farmers market doesn’t mean they are as healthy as the fruits and veggies at the neighboring vendors. Try something new! My farmers market sells some fruits and vegetables that I can’t find at the grocery store. I try a few new things each summer like different types of tomatoes, beets, greens and squash. Learn about what forms of payment are accepted. Many farmers accept food assistance EBT as well as WIC benefits. You may see a sign at the farmer’s booth indicating they accept these forms of payment. In Iowa the signs will look like this. Enjoy your farmers market this summer and share your finds with us on Facebook!

Christine Hradek

Christine Hradek is a State Nutrition Specialist with Iowa State University Extension and Outreach. She coordinates ISU’s programs which help families with low income make healthy choices with limited food budgets. Christine loves helping families learn to prepare healthy foods, have fun in the kitchen and save money. In her spare time, Christine enjoys cooking, entertaining and cheering on her favorite college football teams with her family and friends.


Tips for Shopping at the Farmers Market One of my favorite things about summer is going to my local farmers market for delicious, fresh fruits and vegetables. I grow some of my own tomatoes and herbs on my patio, but I don’t have the space to do much more than that. The farmers market has a huge variety and the food is as fresh as if I had grown it myself. Shopping at the farmers market is different than the grocery store so here are some tips for readers who may not have given it a try before or found it to be overwhelming. Bring your own bag. The farmers will appreciate it and having a bag that can go on your shoulder will help keep your hands free. I use a backpack! Get to know your local farmers. They will help you choose the best they have to offer and will have good suggestions for cooking and preparing the fruits and veggies as well. Beware the “health halo”. Many vendors sell delicious baked goods like donuts and pies. My market has vendors that sell fabulous international foods like Salvadoran Pupusas and Vietnamese spring rolls. Yum! Indulging in these treats can be a fun part of going to the farmers market, but keep in mind that just because they are sold at the farmers market doesn’t mean they are as healthy as the fruits and veggies at the neighboring vendors. Try something new! My farmers market sells some fruits and vegetables that I can’t find at the grocery store. I try a few new things each summer like different types of tomatoes, beets, greens and squash. Learn about what forms of payment are accepted. Many farmers accept food assistance EBT as well as WIC benefits. You may see a sign at the farmer’s booth indicating they accept these forms of payment. In Iowa the signs will look like this. Enjoy your farmers market this summer and share your finds with us on Facebook!

Christine Hradek

Christine Hradek is a State Nutrition Specialist with Iowa State University Extension and Outreach. She coordinates ISU’s programs which help families with low income make healthy choices with limited food budgets. Christine loves helping families learn to prepare healthy foods, have fun in the kitchen and save money. In her spare time, Christine enjoys cooking, entertaining and cheering on her favorite college football teams with her family and friends.


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