How To Shop Your Farmers Market
“Food Rule #15: Get out of the supermarket whenever you can.”
Food Rules - An Eater Manual - Michael Pollan
Food writer Michael Pollan sums it up perfectly. Most Americans spend the majority of their food shopping in a supermarket. A lot of it has to do with convenience and price. However, with the increased outbreaks in food contamination and food allergies, would you rather spend your money at a local market, knowing where the food is coming from? My husband and I made that choice in the summer of 2007, when he decided to make changes in his diet as a result of food sensitivites and allergies, causing him to get sick. We made a huge lifestyle change and have not looked back since. Shopping at a farmers market allows you to cook with what is available in season. If you have not shopped at a farmers market, it can be pretty overwhelming. To get you started, let me share some of my tips from our experience. For additional tips, you can check out my June newsletter.
1. At your first trip, take a walk-through of the entire market to familiarize yourself, before you start your shopping. Different vendors may have similar produce at different prices and quality.
2. Arriving early is key to have access to the best selection. Popular items, such as morel mushrooms may be limited and sell out quickly.
3. Make sure to bring cash, as some vendors may not accept credit cards.
4. Get to know your farmer! By building a relationship with your farmer, you can learn how to cook with the products you purchased and have a direct connection to where your food is coming from.
5. We like creating a system when shopping. We start with produce, followed by meat/dairy and baked goods. Once our car is loaded, we purchase a prepared food item for breakfast.
Owner, Amber Wojcinski (pictured on right) - Las Manas Tamales
Owner, Bobby Chang - Seasons Soda
We typically shop at the Green City Market, but there are wonderful markets throughout the city and suburbs. To locate your local market, check out The Local Beet. Some of our favorite farmers and vendors include:
- Green Acres Farm
- Seedling Fruit
- Three Sisters Garden
- Iron Creek Farm
- River Valley Mushrooms
- Tiny Greens
- TJ's Free Range Poultry
- Pasta Puttana
- Crumb Bread
- Floriole Bakery
- Sunday Dinner
- Las Manas Tamales
- Seasons Soda
- Prairie Fruits Farm and Creamery
- Nordic Creamery
- Hoosier Mama Pie Company
Photo credit: Green Acres Farm photo courtesy of Green Acres Farm
Check out our calendar of Chicago Farmers Markets