With the weather taking a turn for the better (in most places), it's almost time for one of the most exciting parts of the summer: farmer's markets. These can be found all over the world and are especially popular in the U.S. in areas where crops, produce, and local wares are in high demand. The best part about going to one of these markets is having the freedom and time to stroll down each booth aisle, exploring all there is to see and potentially buy. From gourmet goods to local artwork, there's no saying what one might find at their local market.


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It goes without saying that while everything is exciting and new at the farmer's market, there are some things that can definitely be skipped. Alternatively, there are some things that many people would recommend as 'must-haves' in terms of what to purchase fresh and locally. In order to answer this question in full, we took to Reddit to figure out exactly what farmer's market shoppers should pay attention to, what can probably be skipped, and what should always be on the list week after week... because when in doubt, Reddit.

The Big Question: Vegetables

The main attraction, when it comes to farmer's markets, are and always will be vegetables. The term 'vegetables' encompasses a wide variety of options, though, all of which are likely to look pretty good when they're overflowing in a farm crate. It's easy to be distracted by all the produce that's locally-grown and even organic but it takes laser focus to find those hidden gems that are truly worth buying by the pound. According to Reddit, anything that's 'ugly' - heirloom tomatoes, for example - is likely to be absolutely delicious. These tomatoes grow without restraint and are often far more meaty, sweet, and full of flavor due to their natural growth, unhindered by GMOs. Carrots and other root vegetables will follow suit - don't pass by the imperfect ones!

Anything out of the ordinary is also a good buy. Herbs such as purple basil which has a delicate and bright flavor, purslane which is rarely found in grocery stores, and garlic scapes which pack far more of a punch than regular garlic and taste fresher, are all fair game. Fruits that are native to the area of your local farmer's market such as peaches, berries, or citrus if you happen to be in the south are always a good buy. Vegetables that are less popular, such as eggplants (especially of the softball variety), various peppers including bell, poblano, serrano, jalapeño, or habanero, are all great because they're easy to grow and always taste better than in the supermarket. Produce directly from the source tastes so much better thanks to the skipping of the middle man - fruits, vegetables, and herbs are picked directly from the farmer or gardener and are sold straight to the customer. This results in tons of flavor, a lasting freshness, and a ripe perfection that's rarely seen at the supermarket.

When To Purchase Proteins Or Dairy

Purchasing proteins or dairy can be tricky at farmer's markets especially if the market is outdoors. On a 90-degree day with no proper refrigeration (unless ice can be visibly seen at a booth), it's probably best to skip the proteins or dairy if you've got a long drive home. However, at the beginning of the season and toward the end of the season, meat and dairy are fair game. Some people look for specifics such as duck eggs, according to Reddit, while others prefer to find game like venison or duck that isn't available in the supermarket. The benefit of seeking out these types of meat is that they're locally hunted, butchered, and sold, which is entirely different from the corporate process of meat at the supermarket.

In terms of dairy such as cheese or milk, anything unpasteurized is basically a buy-at-your-own-risk deal. That doesn't mean good cheese, milk, and things such as yogurt can't be purchased at the farmer's market, though. Anything that is pasteurized is something to try and, luckily for cheese, it can sit at room temperature for a bit before it needs immediate refrigeration. This is an excellent way to try locally produced dairy goods such as goat cheese and cow's milk cheese.

Local Wares And Foods That Aren't Produce

There will often be other things to peruse, as well. Reddit users recommend scoping out gourmet items such as local honey which is said to help with allergies, and raw honey, overall, is healthier for you.

Other items, such as bread, pastries, and pie, are a fantastic farmer's market find because they're fresh, wholesome, and are usually made with local ingredients while still being affordable. These - called 'artisan goods' - are top-recommended by Reddit threads, along with non-edible items such as soap, lotions, kitchenware (knives), and even wood or pottery homewares.

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