Whether your guilty pleasure is watching cooking shows like Ina Garten’s Barefoot Contessa or Giada DiLaurentis’ Giada at Home or instagram stalking food bloggers whose photography is out of this world, then you’ve seen those purple carrots and zebra tomatoes and the instagram-ably famous berry baskets. Every time you see them you wonder, where oh where art thou zebra tomato and purple carrot? Well, maybe we do that. But if you do ever wonder, here’s the answer: your local farmer’s market. Local farmer’s markets are to chefs and food bloggers like the Rose Bowl Flea Market is to interior designers. It’s the best place to find fresh, healthy and flavorful produce and food. Your local grocers may carry these items from time to time, but your best bet is your weekly farmer’s market because they’ll most likely always have what you’re looking for and their produce will offer incredible flavor you can’t find anywhere else.
True, there are so many vendors with an abundance of produce, food, flowers and snacks to choose from, many of which you can find at your local grocer. The trick is figuring out what to buy where. Here’s a cheat sheet for you:
If you see any of these at your local farmer’s market — BUY THEM!
Tomatoes: Whether they’re zebra, plum, heirloom, cherry or roma your local farmer’s market will absolutely have better tasting tomatoes than your local grocery store. They’ll be sweet and full of flavor.
Peaches: The best peaches for baking and salads can be found at your farmer’s market. White peaches are plentiful and you’re bound to want to nibble on one while you’re shopping. (extra tip: to select the best peaches first take a whiff, if it’s fragrance is sweet then you’ve picked a good one. Also, you’ll want to give them a light squeeze; a perfect peach will not be too hard or too soft).
Avocados: This is a guacamole game changer people! You’ll be wanting avocado toast for every meal, guaranteed. Avocados at farmer’s markets are so much better in flavor and most are already ripe and ready to eat.
Carrots: You’ll taste the rainbow with farmer’s market carrots. Reds, yellows, oranges, whites and purples will be lined up for your choosing. They’re fresh with the most beautiful green stems; even Bugs Bunny would be jealous.
Nuts: Grocery shelves house several brands of nuts that never really taste great. They’re uber salted with unnatural flavors like ranch and wasabi soy sauce. To get the best health benefits you need the best nuts; raw nuts and your local farmer’s market has them. If you’re looking for flavored nuts you can try great recipes at home like olive oil, rosemary and red pepper almonds. But your nut vendor will have options for you too; smoked or real honey roasted nuts.
Honey: One of the best things to buy at your local farmer’s market is raw honey. It’s not processed and will be the tastiest addition to your hot teas, salad dressings, or drizzled over a crostini. Fact: raw honey reduces allergy symptoms and helps boost energy!
Concord Grapes: Something you will almost never see at your local grocery store. These are what’s used to make jams, juice, and pies. They’re deliciously sweet and beautiful in color. Looking for something to add to your cheese board for that extra pop, these are your answer!
Spices: Finding fresh spices at the grocery store is tough. You’re likely to drive around to a few stores and still won’t find all of the ingredients you need for your recipe. Luckily, your local farmer’s will have the answer. It does take a little preparing in the days ahead to figure out what you’re going to make later on in the week, but trust us, this is key. Thyme, dill, mint, sage, oregano, chives, rosemary and basil are all of the goodies you’ll be able to easily shop from those farmer’s market vendors.
Berries: The sweetest berries and most vibrant in color can be found at your local farmer’s market. Perfect for smoothies, salads, ice cream or yogurt toppings, and cocktails. Buy all of the berry goodness — raspberries, blueberries, blackberries, and strawberries.
Now that you have the tricks of the trade, hopefully it’ll be easier enjoy those leisurely farmer’s market strolls. You won’t find better tasting produce that offer the best nutritional benefits. Plus,their vibrant colors will definitely make you want to snap an insta pic or two to show off your cooking and food styling skills.
*Tips: 1) plan your weekly meals if you can so you’ll know exactly what you need to buy 2) bring bags or a wheel cart 3) taste test, most vendors offer taste testings of their produce so you can ensure how great their flavor is.