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What to Buy and What Not to Buy at the Farmers' Market

jacquelinebuch profile picture
Jacqueline PaumierGuest Blogger
June 28, 2016 · 4.5k Views

It’s Sunday morning, you’ve got a shopping trolley filled with recyclable bags and a wallet full of cash ready to be spent. It’s farmers' market time, and there’s really nothing that beats the feeling of coming home with a trunk full of fresh produce and feeling proud that you chose to go both local and organic. Even with all the colorful splendor of the farmers' market, there are certain things to keep in mind. There are specific items you want to only buy at your local farmers' market, and some you may want to stay away from altogether. We’ve assembled some easy guidelines to keep your shopping trip care free.

If you can't make it out to the farmers' market, you can still find great prices on fresh produce and groceries by visiting our coupon pages:


What You Should Buy at Farmers' Markets

1. Eggs

Source: Sheryl Shenefelt

Is there anything better than a weekend omelet made with fresh free-range eggs? We doubt it. Step away from those white on white eggs, and come back to the good stuff. A farmers' market is the perfect way to pick up fresh and local eggs without wondering what’s in them. These eggs will typically come from chickens free of steroids, and hormones. In addition to being chemical free, free range eggs have been found to have more vitamin A, Vitamin D, Vitamin E and more omega-3 fatty acids than factory farmed eggs, nearly three to six times as much.

2. Grapes 

Don’t be fooled by those extra-large grapes found in grocery chains, when it comes to this delicious fruit size doesn’t always matter. Grapes found in your local supermarket are typically covered in harmful pesticides, and fed Frankenstein fertilizer. The all natural, delicious grapes found at the farmers' market have a particular tangy flavor  to them, that really has no competition. This is especially true if you are buying your grapes to make jams or desserts, there’s no substitution for the real deal.

3. Carrots

Source: Good to Grow

Believe it or not, carrots are a varied vegetable. While your local supermarket will typically sell only the orange carrots (and those freaky artificially made baby carrots), your local farmers' market will carry carrots in a wide variety of flavors in carrots. So what’s the difference? The multi-colored carrots come with their own set of health benefits. The purple carrots (yes, there are purple carrots), hold higher amounts of beta carotene, and is particularly rich in anthocyanins, the antioxidant found in superfoods such as blueberries and acai.

4. Onions

Your grocery chain onions are quite the world traveler. In fact, the majority of onions sold in commercial stores are imported all the way from places as far away as South America. Obviously, this long journey affects the flavor of the onions and also comes with its own host of health concerns. One particular pesticide (called methamidophos ) used on onion, particularly in Peru, has been found to damage the sperm count in those growing them. Not the kind of thing you want sitting in your fridge. Save yourself the health care and buy onions from closer to home. Not only will you avoid the health scare but you will also have fresher, tastier onions.

5. Bread

Source: Gluten Free Help

If you have never purchased freshly baked bread from a farmer's market, you seriously don’t know what you’re missing out on. The quality difference of fresh, homemade bread, compared to that stuff n the plastic wrap on aisle 4 is unbelievable. These bread can easily be a meal by itself. Vendors from farmers' market will usually carry a wide selection of bread types from healthy gluten-free variations to guilty pleasures like chocolate filled croissants.


What to Never Buy at the Farmers' Market

1. Honey

Source: Vail Farmers' Market

We know, we know. The honey at farmers' markets are fresh, local and taste amazing, so what’s the problem? While the honey itself isn’t the problem you may want to spend extra attention to the label and the prices that come with it. Many vendors will buy honey from a local honey farm and sell it for twice the price because they know it’s an easy sell. Save yourself the money (or buy twice as much) and visit the bee farm yourself to buy direct at a much better price.

2. The First Items You Like

Any experienced farmers' market shopper can tell you there’s an art form to browsing the market. Often you will find multiple stalls selling the same items, with one offering a more affordable price or better quality. Take your time and walk the length of the farmers' market first, paying attention to things you like. Then pick up the best bargains on the walk back. This will also save you from having to haul extra bags both ways.

3. The Shiniest Produce

Source: Resilience

Unlike supermarkets, there’s some room to negotiate here. By avoiding the “perfect looking” produce and choosing some that may come in odd shapes or look slightly bruised, you can often request a better price. Vendors are more likely to negotiate on the type of produce that looks like it won’t sell. Another wise move is to come towards the end of the farmers' market (unless you are wanting something particular that sells out quickly). Vendors rarely want to head home with boxes of unsold produce that will lose its quality by the next market and are more likely to give up some major discounts.

4. Junky Junk Food

You came here to be healthy remember! While farmers' markets are known as a great place to pick up fresh organic produce, recently more and more junk food stalls have begun appearing. Keep your market trip clean and green, and prepare yourself something healthy when you arrive home with your new ingredients! In other words, step away from the garlic fries and pick up a sweet potato instead.

5. Any Produce Out of Season

Source: Dallas Observer

While the purpose of the farmers' market is “fresh and local” there are always a few people in there trying to make an extra buck. Pay attention to the seasons and what fruits and vegetables should be available at that time. If the produce is out of season, best to stay away from it.


jacquelinebuch profile picture
Jacqueline is a modern day gypsy, who has lived in several countries and has traveled to over 20. A sucker for all things pleasing to the senses; her world revolves around food (any and all food), foreign indie films, and salsa music. The first to jump off a waterfall and the last to say no to sushi, she has been described as a bit of an “extremist”. In her perfect world, no one ever spells “cool” as “kool” and Ryan Gosling has more tattoos. She enjoys spending her free time in her New Orleans home with her Cubano guitarist husband and 1-year-old son.