This post, The Smartest Way to Shop at a Farmer’s Market, has several useful suggestions but I have a few more to add, especially for people shopping in Oakland.
I know the selection is better in the morning, but I never make it out that early. So I show up sometime in the last hour and take advantage of the discounts.
Try different ingredients
Last week, I couldn’t pass up these Japanese Eggplant, but I’d never cooked with them before. They were 3 for $1 – can you blame me? Trying new ingredients is how I learn. It’s how I become a better cook.
Talk to the farmers
I speak Spanish, so I always use it whenever the opportunity arises. I start a conversation with the farmers and we end up talking about things like produce, weather, cooking and family. Really, it doesn’t matter what language we speak because it’s always a nice chat.
Go to the smaller markets
My weekend routine used to include the Grand Lake or Temescal Market, but they started getting crowded and expensive. Now, I go to Freedom Farmer’s Market on Saturdays or Fruitvale on Sundays. These markets are really small, with just one or two produce stands, but I like supporting farmers of color and the prices are 50-75% lower. One day, I found beautiful heirloom tomatoes for $1 a pound!