Column: Farmers market 101

Commentary by Beverly Randolph

It’s farmers market time, which means fresh vegetables, fruits, jams and all kinds of savory delights are competing for our senses. Below are tips to make your sensory overload an enjoyable experience both for you as the customer and for hard working vendors.

Build relationships

  • The early bird catches the worm, as the best selection is available, and vendors are at their peak to engage in conversation, especially if you have an in-depth question or comment.
  • Get to know your farmers and vendors; they are eager to share tips on handling, storage, recipes, etc.
  • Do you have a favorite vendor? Buy him/her a coffee or other beverage. Some have traveled far distances and by 11 a.m., they are exhausted.

Be respectful

  • Look with your eyes and don’t touch. The vendor has selected his best inventory; just ask which he recommends. If touching is approved, do so with sanitized hands for safe food handling. Tip: don’t invert jelly as it breaks down and softens to the point where it won’t hold its set.
  • “Please,” “thank you” and “excuse me” are always appreciated.
  • Most will have a prominent sign for samples. If not, ask as each vendor has his own regulations based on food type and comfort level. Limit your samples.
  • Be mindful of the space around you and/or your group. Large groups take a lot of space. For chatting, go to an area where traffic isn’t blocked.
  • Some vendors are required to take refuse. Be mindful of what you place in theirs.
  • Use waiting time to pull out correct change, have your bag ready and make transactions short.
  • Teach children these tips prior, and ensure they stay close to you for safety.

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