The Not-So Starving Student—Farmers’ Market 101

For students looking for a weekend activity that involves exploring locally grown produce, farmers’ markets make an excellent choice to accompany the warmer weather.  Unlike the usual trip to complete the groceries list, farmers’ markets provide an array of artisan food products, crafts and sometimes even live music.  However, if you’re planning to try your hand at picking up some quality produce for your dinner plans, then this read will be important for you.  To help you get the most out of your farmers’ market trip, we’ve compiled some tips and tricks from university students.

Pick items that are in season

With the heaps and rows filled with fresh produce, it’s inevitably overwhelming.  Especially for millennials growing up in urban areas; many of us are unfamiliar with the seasonality of freshly-grown veggies and fruits.  Consuming fruits and veggies off-season may not only contribute to paying higher prices, but also to a compromise in the authentic taste of those products.  For example, have you ever wondered why strawberries in the winter are less sweet and ripe than those in summer? Part of the reason may be that the strawberries are grown in greenhouses with artificial light and moisture conditions.  Do some research (on your cell phones) before buying a particular fruit or veggie.

The early bird gets the worm

Regular farmer’s market goers might notice that as the day progresses, the quality of the fruits and veggies diminish as the stock depletes.  To improve your experience, if you plan to bring home some produce, arrive early during the day to ensure the freshest pick.  Unless you’re going for preserved items such as jam and pickles, starting the day early can give you a huge advantage.  For example, at the Granville farmers market in Vancouver.  Starting the day at 9:30 am, my close friend and I were able to purchase an entire bag of fresh avocados for $2!

Ask the farmers questions

For beginners visiting farmers’ markets, we might shy away from asking questions and observe other customers’ behaviors.  However, part of having a wholesome experience is taking the opportunity to ask ample questions to farmers.  Many of vendors are highly knowledgeable about their products and provide you with surprising information about their produce.  For example, asking the vendor at a pickle stall at the Edmonton Farmer’s Market taught me that using different vinegar types lead to very different tasting pickles! For the experienced visitors, try asking for samples if none are provided.

BYOB (bring your own bags & change!)

Coming to the farmers’ market prepared will mean less time spent trying to scramble for change or look for bags.  If you’re planning on picking up ingredients for the kitchen, then bringing a reusable bag will make your navigation that much smoother!


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