Even if your morning mantra isn’t “be green, eat local, go organic,” there are lots of benefits to shopping at the local farmers’ market, from the friendly vibe to the sweet deals. But navigating the market can be intimidating, especially for newbies. Here are a few know-before-you-go tips that’ll have you shopping like a pro:

  1. Learn the lingo. What does cage-free, organic, natural, and free-range actually mean (and what does it mean to you?). Check out some terminology breakdowns here.
  2. Hold the purse/wallet/man-purse. While most fruit and vegetables tend to run a little cheaper than local grocery store prices, meat and fish can be a little more expensive so, if you’re on a budget, plan accordingly.
  3. Don’t settle. Avoid the tendency to buy the first thing you see— shop around. A lot of vendors carry similar produce, compare prices, ripeness, etc...
  4. Make friends. Most local vendors are regulars at the market. If you’re pleased with the produce, chat up the owners, learn when the best stock arrives, and work towards a friendly discount.
  5. Bring these. While bringing a bag from home isn’t necessary, in the spirit of being green, go ahead and dust off that reusable bag and put it to use. Also plan on bringing cash.
  6. Ask away. The vendors are truly passionate about their work, so if you have questions, don’t be afraid to ask. (Here are five essential questions to ask.)
  7. Taste test. Never tasted an Asian pear? Most vendors have samples out, but if not, go ahead and ask to taste the fruits and veggies to make sure they’re fresh and tasty.
  8. Read up. Know what’s in season (it’ll taste the best and have the best price). For spring, look for these fruits and vegetables and check out this calendar for a year-round snapshot.
  9. Be an early bird. Finally, get to the market early— the best produce sells out quickly!

Ready to head to the market? Find the nearest one here.

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