If you have been following me on instagram, you will see that I am absolutely obsessed with the farmers markets here in Montreal. Although they were abundant in Toronto, this was the first time time I have had large, year round farmers markets available to me.
I have been loving getting fresh, in season produce and they just make my foods taste so much better. The tomatoes are juicy and plump, the corn is so fresh and unbelievably sweet and the greens are crunchy and hydrating. Plus, they have really forced me to eat in season and support local farmers. In this post you would find some tips and tricks on how to have an easy relatively inexpensive farmers market shopping experience.
I hope these are helpful tips in shopping at the farmers market. August and September are prime times when it comes to produce as you have a lot of the summer favourites in season as well as the beginning of the fall produce too. I will be making an update for shopping at the farmers market in the winter so stay tuned
Why shop at the farmers market?
- I believe there is something special about purchasing food from people who grew it. It truly allows us to put a face behind the food we eat and acknowledge the work that these farmers have put in to provide us with the best quality foods.
- It is easier to find organic and non-GMO foods that probably have less chemicals and gunk on them since they are not grown in large scales.
- It encourages you to eat with the seasons, choosing fruit and vegetables that are at their peak with flavour and nutrients. Eating with the seasons makes you truly taste the foods you are eating.
- Lastly, since the food is local, it has travelled fewer miles and thus better for the environment.
What to do before heading to the farmers market
- Check your fridge and pantry. Regardless of whether you are shopping at the grocery store or at the farmers market, it is always important to check what you already have so that you are not buying unnecessary food that can be wasteful and a waste of money
- Check what is in season. I generally google “in season Quebec” and I find a handy chart that shows me what is in season. This way I tailor my shopping list to what is available this season. Aside from the flavours, these also tend to be the cheaper foods at the farmers market so thats another bonus. So make sure to check out what is in season at your local area. Chances are there will be a handy post about it on google.
- Pack reusable bags. These are the best way to transport your food in my opinion, saves plastic and best for the environment.
At the farmers market
- Don’t shop at the first stall; scour the farmers market to find the best deals and look for the freshest ingredients. In a small farmers market, you may not have to do this because maybe one item is sold by only one vendor but with the farmers markets I go to, you have plenty vendors selling the same things.
- When you are at the vendors booth ask if the produce is from your town, municipality or state/province. Unfortunately, especially in large farmers markets, there are many people reselling produce from wholesale, which have most likely been imported. For example a large stall in one of my farmers market was selling tomatoes from the US, when tomatoes are in season in Quebec so probably not the best to buy. If you are too scared to ask, look at the boxes at the vendors stall, they most likely also have the place of origin on them.
- Get to know your farmers, ask them questions about the produce, and the best way to cook it. Since they are growing the produce they have the best knowledge on storage and great ways to cook the produce. Sometimes you may score an extra piece of fruit or veggie in return.