- Ask for seconds. Find recipes that use reductions.
Sometimes called #2 produce, this is fruit and other produce that have blemishes or visual imperfections but which are otherwise perfectly good to eat. Some of these blemishes can be considerable, however. You can cut them out. You can also use this type of produce for recipes for salsa, sauce, stew, pies or other blended foods in which the visual appearance of the ingredients is irrelevant.
- Be flexible. Be ready to go off script.
Even if you’ve been to your local farmers market before, it’s hard to know exactly who will be setting up shop and what they will have available on any given week. Different seasons bring surpluses of various kinds of foodstuffs. Especially if you’re local AND organic food vendors, then Mother Nature is going to have her say. If you go the farmers market with a typical grocery list, be prepared to spend a few extra dollars and you may still not be able to get everything. By staying flexible, you can also look to take advantage of those items that food vendors don’t think they’ll be able to sell out of.
- Talk to vendors about other vendors.
Strike up a conversation with a personable, talkative vendor. They aren’t hard to find. Not all gossip is bad, and asking after other vendors is especially easy after making a purchase. Ask for the best places to get the other items on your list. Ask for tips about booths that have especially good deals or unique offerings. Don’t be afraid to name drop the person who gave you the tip when talking to the next vendor. Know, too, that your demeanor and presentation can make an impact, too. People carrying macchiatos and talking on their phones may be a commonplace sight at farmers markets, but they are less likely to get a receptive audience when trying to haggle the price.
- The early bird doesn’t get the worm. At least not at the best price.
Many vendors at some farmers markets will offer steep discounts at the end of the day. They don’t want to have to haul their foodstuffs back to the farm or local storage, especially if refrigeration is necessary. In other places, these types of end-of-day discounts are less common or prohibited altogether. In these cases, there may be an agreement in place to buy the surplus goods at a discount price and donated to a local food bank.
- Skip the first week, or else use it for information.
This anti-early-bird strategy also works on a seasonal level. The first week a farmers market opens, there is limited supplies available from local farms. At the same time, a lot of people have been anticipating the open of the market for weeks, if not months. A lot of people tend to show up in the first couple weeks. The farmers market is hardly immune from basic economic principles. When supply is low, and demand is high, you’re not going to get the best price. With that being said, we’re not going to tell you to avoid a farmers market just because it’s early in the season. Rather, maybe just be selective and look to learn what items are likely to go down in price as the year goes on.