Eating local doesn’t have to be scary and challenging, now that the Farmer’s Market season is in full swing. Unfortunately, few students are even aware of the markets that are operating throughout the summer in Vancouver. If you are into the local food scene or just curious to learn more about shopping locally and eating nutritionally, here is a guide and some useful tips to shopping at a Farmer’s Market – what to look for, locations to shop, the seasons for the different fruits & vegetables and any other helpful tips you might have.
10 Tips for Smart Shopping at Vancouver Farmers Markets:
1) Get there early to get the best available produce. This also applies to meat and fish – the freshest loads arrive in the morning. I try to be there as soon as the markets are open.
2) Bring your own reusable bags to save from using plastic. Stay green while shopping!
3) Bring cash – most vendors will be cash only. Occasionally some larger vendors will have Interact, but its always better to be prepared.
4) Always ask the farmer or vendor what is in season right now, especially with fresh fruits and vegetables. There is a period during the growing season when each produce is at its best and is most plentiful. Try to educate yourself on this matter before heading to the market so you know what to look for. Here’s a great resource and a handy calendar for fridge décor to keep track of what’s in season.
5) Find a balance between unnecessary handling someone’s produce and feeling for perfect ripeness.
6) Don’t be afraid to ask for a taste test of something before deciding to buy it! Vendors like it when you show interest and want to learn more about their products.
7) If you are on the hunt for a rare, specialty item, such as a Fuet salami from Spain, go straight to the meat section. Don’t waste time looking – just ask for what you’re looking for and someone can always direct you where to go.
8) Make an effort to educate yourself on where your food is coming from by asking lots of questions and reading written material about the farms.
9) Don’t be too stingy or expect cheap prices – the purpose of Farmers Markets is to help support local farmers working hard to provide the community with the best, freshest (and hopefully organic) produce. This comes with extra costs that are essential and relative to the added benefits of supporting farmers markets. At the same time, it’s wise to compare prices between different stands for a similar product, such as heirloom tomatoes, and to see which looks better and offers the best price. Put your money where it counts for you – whether it be that special cheese, variety of wine or luscious chocolate – the extra added cost is most often always worth it.
10) Go with a friend and make it a picnic afterwards with your goodies. Shopping at Farmers Markets should be social and fun!
Summer 2012 Vancouver Farmers Market Directory:
Granville Island Farmer’s Market
Everyday, 9am – 3pm
June 7 – October 25
Location: Granville Island – outside the Public Market
Trout Lake Farmers Market
Saturdays, 9am – 2pm each week
May 12 – October 20
Location: North Parking Lot of John Hendry Park at Trout Lake, between Templeton and Lakewood south of the 13th Avenue Alley
Please note: There is no parking in the North Lot and no parking on 13th Avenue. Please park away from the area and walk in. Better yet, walk, cycle or take transit if you can!
Kitsilano Farmers Market
Sundays, 10am – 2pm
May 20 – October 21
Location: Parking Lot of Kitsilano Community Centre
West End Farmers Market
Saturdays, 9am – 2pm each week
June 2 – October 20
Location: 1100 Block of Comox Street across from Nelson Park at Mole Hill
Main Street Station at Thornton Park
Wednesdays, 3pm – 7pm
June 6 – October 3
Location: 1100 Block Station Street along Thornton Park across from the VIA Rail Station and near the Main St. Skytrain Station
Some great blogs with healthy recipes:
Best vegetarian blog out there: http://www.101cookbooks.com/