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How to Shop Your Local Farmers' Market



Now that your farmers’ market finally has some serious bounty, it’s time to learn the ropes, think deeply and shop smartly. Grab your favorite broken-in canvas bag, a bit of cash and small change, and hit the road with these tips in mind.

1. Embrace the unknown.

 Think white turnips, chioggia beets, watermelon radishes and zucchini blossoms. Go outside of your comfort zone. You don’t know what’s out there until you try it. But, you will know exactly where it came from.

2. Rise and Shine!

For the best selection, get there when the market opens: Farmers and other vendors will sell out of the best stuff quickly, so get there bright and early. It also gets hot later in the day, and the crowds swell past 10 a.m.

[Photo: Rachel Bailey]

3. Know your produce.

Learn to smell a melon. Look beneath the husk to see the corn kernels. Snap a green bean to see if it’s fresh. Gently squeeze an avocado. Talk to the farmers themselves to see which tomato is going to be the sweetest. They also have excellent tips on how to prepare their goods.

4. Go beyond the produce.

Goat cheese, local honey, lavender soap, fresh pasta, homemade salsa and fresh pesto… There’s so much more to a farmers’ market than just produce. It’s like your favorite grocery store, but even better. Go beyond the expected.

[Photo: Rachel Bailey]

5. Survey, survey, survey.

Don’t go for the first cantaloupe you see, the first pint of raspberries, or the first bushel of arugula. Walk the market first and see the offerings before you buy. You don’t want to get three pieces of corn for $1, just to see the same stuff, five for $1 two stalls down.

Farmers’ markets are up-and-running all around Colorado.  Check colorado.gov or coloradofarmers.org for locations and times.

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