5 Tips to Win at DC Farmers’ Markets

You want crisp, sweet produce straight from the ground. They have the skills and organic food to make that happen. Washington, DC local farmers’ markets are a match made in culinary heaven, and we’ve got a few ideas for making that connection more seamless and delicious than ever.

Let’s Talk Bags

A good plan starts with bringing useful home supplies along: Take more bags to the farmer’s market than you think you need, including reusable baggies with a damp paper towel to keep herbs and delicate produce from wilting on the way home. If you’ve got your eye on some dairy or seafood, consider letting a mini cooler tag along to keep that artisanal cheese at its freshest.

Get the Full Story

Was there a good haul of broccoli rabe recently? What does a perfectly ripe nectarine feel like? Nobody knows produce like the person who brings it to market, so fire away—farmers are usually excited to share their work and knowledge. Chatting up your favorite producer also provides info on exactly how local the goods are—and could even score you inside deals as a favorite customer.

It’s All About the Washingtons

You know you’re not dropping a twenty on green beans, so make a point to save up those small bills for your farmers’ market run. No one likes making change, and it’ll save both you and the vendor lots of time. Plus, it makes it easier for you to only bring the amount of cash you want to spend—and less likely that you’ll head home overloaded with impulse buys.

Keep Your Options Open

One stand will have the most luscious grapes you’ve ever seen—until you see the same ones a row over for cheaper. Take a lap before committing, and you’ll get the best deal while remaining flexible—that winter squash could be available a few weeks early. Don’t pass up samples, and ask if you don’t see any. Even if you have to pay for it, trying one apple now can help you avoid taking home a bushel of flavorless duds.

Know What You’re After

Getting to the farmer’s market near you right when it opens offers access to your pick of the crop, which is especially helpful for scoring specific or popular items that sell out. If you’re more interested in a good deal, stroll over closer to quittin’ time, as farmers are keen to avoid lugging goods all the way back home. Ask about seconds—produce that shows a little cosmetic wear and tear—if you’re using something like a juice extractor to prepare a dish where looks don’t matter. After all, isn’t great taste what really counts?