Our 5 Tips to Shop Like A Pro at Farmers Markets

Published: September 20, 2022
Last Edited: September 20, 2022

The growing presence of farmers markets in Ontario suggests that they offer more than just produce. Food is a true celebration of diversity.

Have you ever wondered why a farmers market is about more than farmers selling produce? We want to say that it is because a marketplace where food, goods, ideas, and money are exchanged is an ancient public place - one that we respond to in a deeply intuitive way despite the omnipresence of the supermarket. Also, when you think about it, the farmers market is really about the only place left in our lives where we can interact with someone who makes something we use.

Kale at Afro-Caribbean Farmers Market

Deeper Roots Farm, Afro-Caribbean Farmers Market 

Farmers markets are about: Protecting farmland and water and keeping the farming traditions and cultures; a healthy sense of pride in one's work and on one's land, and providing communities with good food likely grown by sound, sustainable methods.

A farmers market should also in turn, provide a healthy environment of diversity with regards to plants (many varieties) and people (different races, different backgrounds), so to revitalize local food cultures which can easily disappear in the lackluster sameness of the national menu. Other intangible benefits and delights that come from the farmers market have to do with the food we find there. Colours, patters, charm, fragrance, flavour, and variety conspire to fill us with ideas. 

Having regional differences in our food makes life interesting for all of us. 

 
We have seen a lot selling our products in farmers market spaces. As shoppers we have gotten a lot for our dollars spent; farmers markets have long been our first choice for ingredients.

Today, we are sharing some market tips with you – some good things to know for a joyous farmers market experience.

Corn at St. Jacobs Market, Waterloo, Ontario Sourcing Ingredients, St. Jacobs Market, Waterloo, Ontario

#1 ASK THE GROWERS

If you don’t recognize what you’re looking at, or need a tip on how to use it, ask the growers.

#2 PLAN TO SPEND TIME, SLOW TIME

Regardless of the nature of any particular market (and we say this after visiting many), all markets have something worth seeking out - some treasure to be discovered.

If you are especially new to visiting a farmers’ market, start by exploring. Walk around to see what is being offered before you start to shop. It is fine to buy randomly - choosing what looks good and appeals to you - but if you take some time to stroll around, you may also find some menus and recipe ideas forming in your head.

#3 TAKE THE KIDS ALONG

Children can become good eaters when they see the connection between the farmer and the food they eat. This is especially true if they get to participate in some kind of farming experience. They won’t know it, but they are learning good eating habits by developing a taste for truly fresh, delicious food when they are young. Let them buy a few things, too.

#4 BRING A COOLER

If you think it will be a while before you get home from the market, bring a cooler. A cooler will be very helpful to keep your food fresh (including "not shelf-stable" products like ours that require refrigeration) while you stay on to visit or do other errands.

#5 JOIN A CSA

If you do not like shopping, but you enjoy the farm food that the farmers market  offers, or if you want to build a closer and more direct relationship with farmers, consider joining a CSA-a farm that participates in Community Supported Agriculture.

There are many threads here which, when woven together, create the fabric of a civilized life where the production of good and nourishing food coincides with healthy communities. You can read more about CSAs at https://www.blackcreekfarm.ca/about-csas/.