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The Best Way to Shop at Your Farmers Market

Peaches and peppers and plums, oh my—these things are ripe and hitting the stands at markets across the country. And since National Farmers Market Week is August 4–10, here are some “best practice” tips for shopping at one.

Grab your reusable bags and small bills, and peruse the produce with these things in mind:

The early bird gets the cream of the crop.
Want the freshest and best? Set your alarm. Most vendors will put their best produce out right away. Plus, you may earn yourself a little chitchat time with the vendors. Never underestimate a grower’s knowledge about how to prepare what they harvest.

Do a once-around first.
Scope out the scene before you fill up your bags. It’s the only way to discover who’s offering the best stuff at the best prices. Plus, you may get to taste test samples from several vendors and find your favorites before forking over your cash.

BYOB.
Everybody wins when you use a reusable shopper. You’ll minimize waste, plus carry a sturdier bag than what you’d get from a vendor. You don’t want flimsy plastic handles breaking under the weight of your potatoes and sweet corn.

Know what’s in season.
Check out the mobile app Seasons to see what’s currently fresh. It’ll even tell you about farmers markets close to you.

Many people wonder when to buy organic.
Here’s a rule of thumb: Generally, the more water something absorbs, the more pesticides it may contain. Every year, the Environmental Working Group lists the Dirty Dozen and Clean 15—produce with the most and least pesticides. To learn more, visit www.ewg.org.