It’s finally beginning to feel like summer, and with the warmer weather comes one of my favorite things: Farmers markets!
The environmental benefits of supporting a local farmers market are numerous. The produce is generally locally grown and the other foods sold there are also often locally sourced. Some of the produce you’ll find uses less, if any, pesticides than the produce sold at grocery stores. It also helps you support local farms and the community.
Aside from all of the green benefits of farmers markets, it’s also fun and you can get high quality produce while saving money!
Here are some tips to help you maximize your farmers market shopping experience:
- Bring your own bags. It’s an obvious one, but one that’s easy to forget. Bringing a cooler can also be helpful once the weather heats up some more.
- Bring cash and bring smaller bills when possible. It’s easier on the vendors when they don’t have to break a $20 bill for just a few dollars of produce.
- Go early, or go late. The highest quality merchandise and the broadest selections are there just as the market opens, but if you go towards the end, you can often get some great deals. Sometimes the farmers don’t want to have to bring the produce back, so they’ll lower their prices.
- Ask about pesticide usage. Some items might not be USDA certified organic, but they might still be low on pesticide use or totally pesticide-free. Certification can be costly for smaller farms, in spite of not being certified organic, the produce might still be grown in an organic fashion.
- Get to know the farmers. Usually they’re happy to answer any questions you might have about their produce and their farm.
- Expect more than just produce. Libertyville's farmers markets often sell local meats, cheeses, baked goods, crafts, and sometimes there is even entertainment!
- Learn what’s in season and with that knowledge, plan your meals ahead of time. This helps you get the highest quality seasonal produce for your meals.
- Compare prices. Sometimes there’s a better deal right over in the next stall!
- Try something new. You might come across some funky-looking vegetable that you’ve never seen before. Give it a shot! It could be your new favorite food.
- Bring the family. Teach your kids that going grocery shopping doesn’t have to be a boring experience and educate them about the importance of supporting local farms.
- Park in the parking garage and do not use the Senior Center/ Civic Center parking lot unless you are attending programs in the building. Older seniors often have a hard time finding parking on farmers market days.
Most of all, have fun! Libertyville has a great farmers market, so take advantage. The food is fantastic, it supports the community, and it’s good for the environment. Enjoy yourself!
Libertyville’s farmers market is on Church Street from Milwaukee Avenue to Brainerd Avenue from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. every Thursday until Oct. 20