Household Hack: A Field Guide to the Davis Farmers Market

DavisFarmersMarketOne of Davis’ CA’s greatest charms is its award-winning Davis Farmers Market. Twice a week (Wednesday 4:30-8:30 and Saturday 8:00-1:00, now through October) you can meet friends, picnic, listen to music and oh yeah, purchase food grown or made by local farmers. 

If you haven’t shopped at the Davis Farmers Market, has this handy Field Guide to the Farmers Market. Here are a few tips:

1. Come prepared. Bring bags, small bills, sunscreen, comfortable shoes and a list. I have a bad habit of not writing out what I need to get and leaving with popcorn, pastries, candied nuts and oh-so-conveniently leaving out the veggies. Preparing a plan helps keep you on track.

2. Be flexible. Farmers markets carry only what is locally in season and, depending on harvest, this can change from week to week. Being flexible and willing to make substitutions ensures that you will always have produce at its prime.

3. Walk a lap. Before you start shopping walk the length of the market to asses who has the freshest produce and the best prices, then work your way backwards through the vendors. This insures that you get the most bang for your buck.

4. Ask about deals. Some vendors offer discounts if you buy certain quantities of things or discount overripe fruit and unsold items at the end of the day.

Meanwhile, tells you How to shop like a pro at the farmers’ market. Among their suggestions:bicycle at farmers' market in Rome

2. Take a set amount of cash

Going to the farmers’ market can be an economical way to shop, but it’s also easy to overspend if you’re not careful. Know your budget and stick to it by taking limited cash.

3. Avoid the fancy artisanal items

As lovely as they are, it’s the unique artisanal items that add up and make a visit to the farmers’ market much more expensive than it should be. So unless you need these items and have room in your budget, keep away from the handmade soaps, the infused olive oils, the gourmet cheeses and charcuterie, and stick with the basics.

4. Don’t overdo it if you plan to eat fresh

There’s a natural tendency to overbuy when surrounded by such glorious food at the farmers’ market. Don’t let your eyes be bigger than your stomach, as they say, and buy a reasonable amount to feed the hungry mouths at home, so as to avoid wasted food. Unless, of course, you’re buying in bulk, in which case…

5. Get it while you can

Stock up if you intend to do some canning or freezing. Now is the time to do it, when produce is at its peak. You might be able to strike a deal with farmers at the end of the day for anything that hasn’t sold, or ask in advance for them to bring a bushel of seconds the following week.

6. Take reusables

Please don’t undermine the benefits of shopping at the farmers’ market by returning home with multiple non-recyclable plastic bags! Take reusable produce bags (I use these cotton mesh ones from Life Without Plastic) and a bigger bag or box in which to carry everything. (Here’s a beautiful woven ‘market basket’ from Ten Thousand Villages.)