|No matter what time of day I shop, this farmer gives me the end-of-the-day special.|
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I've been shopping at the same small neighborhood farmers market for about four years. Shopping at the farmers market has numerous benefits, from fresher and better tasting produce, to the welcome absence of produce stickers and high fructose corn syrup. Here are some of the perks that I get for being a regular that go above and beyond the regular benefits.
End of the day priceIn peak season, our favorite stone fruit vendor sells her peaches, nectarines, peaches, and pluots for $2 per pound at the beginning of the day, $1.50 per pound midday, and $1 per pound at the end of the day. But when I buy stone fruit, no matter what time of day, she always charges me $1 per pound. This means I can afford to buy 7 to 10 pounds of deliciousness every week. This is one example of the many special deals I receive as a regular. Farmers appreciate a loyal customer.
A little something extraEvery week the vendors throw in a little something extra. Sometimes it's more of what I'm already buying (an extra bunch of basil or basket of strawberries), sometimes it's something I probably wouldn't buy (bok choy) but that now I'll give a try. On very slow days, the farmers practically throw food at me. One day a farmer chased me down as I walked away from his stand to give me a huge 2+ pound bag of spinach (after I had already purchased more than a pound of leafy greens). I gave some to friends and made pesto with the rest!
Please holdI often get to the market a little later than I'd like. While you can often get better deals at the end of the day as farmers try to get rid of their wares before driving back home, you sometimes miss out on special items in limited supply, such as raspberries. One day when I arrived around 11 am, I asked my favorite berry farmer if she had any raspberries. "We just sold our last basket," she told me. I let out a rather audible (and genuine) sigh. Then she said, "Why don't you just let me know how many you want in the morning and I'll hold them for you? Here is my phone number so you can text me." That is some seriously awesome service, my friends. And, yes, I do utilize this privilege pretty darn often.
Check or cash?As a rule, expect to pay with cash at the farmers market. However, one day when a good friend forgot her cash the vendor told her, "That's OK. Just write me a check." The vendor saw her there nearly every week, and trusted she'd be good for it. Of course, you really don't want to make the farmers deal with checks on a regular basis, but it's lovely to have this kind of option for emergencies. I, myself, have actually bought fruit on credit and then paid the farmer back the next week. I don't make a habit of this though.
RelationshipsProbably the biggest benefit of shopping regularly at the same farmers market is a relationship with the producers of my family's food. They recognize my kids and my kids recognize them. We discuss what's best that day, what we loved from the week before, how long each crop will be in season, and what's coming into season next. That connection is something money can't buy.
Do you shop regularly at the farmers market?
What have you found are the perks of being a regular?
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