Ways to save some green at the farmers market


By LAURA McMULLEN

NerdWallet

The difference between the produce at farmers markets and supermarkets is more than “tomayto” versus “tomahto.” And buying fresh fruit and vegetables at farmers markets offers opportunities to save money in ways you might not find at a grocery store.

Here’s how to get the most for your money when buying produce and other farmers market goods:

GET TO KNOW THE VENDORS

Many vendors give deals to folks they know, says Gabrielle Lupton, a baker at Bubble & Brown Bakery, which sells goods at Salt Lake City farmers markets. To build that kind of relationship with a vendor, become a regular. Consistently buy from that seller and turn to her for bulk and special orders, like a custom cake from a baker.

BUY “UGLY” PRODUCE

“Seconds” or “No. 2s” are fruits and vegetables that taste the same as other produce but look a little off – they may be misshapen or bumpy, for example. Farmers typically sell them more cheaply than the perfect-looking produce. “It’s something farmers have been doing since the dawn of farmers markets,” says Nina Gruber, outreach and development coordinator for Seattle Neighborhood Farmers Markets.

PAY IN CASH

Access to a credit or debit card – and dozens of freshly baked pastries – can put your grocery budget in danger. Lupton says that customers paying with a card typically outspend those who use cash. Consider bringing cash, spending a set amount and leaving your cards at home. (This is a reliable money-saving tip for most kinds of shopping trips.)

SHOP LATE

Vendors don’t want to be stuck with unsold inventory so “they’ll start slinging deals toward the end of the day,” Gruber says. For example, in the final 30 minutes the market is open, you may be able to snag a bag of apples for half the price you would have paid first thing in the morning.

The tradeoff is that there will be a smaller selection of products at the end of the day, Gruber says.

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