Why Forage at a Farmers' Market?
In my world, foraging is the quest for food, whether or not I'm the one who harvests the food. Farmers markets are ideal for beginning foragers. Everyone who shops there gets to:
*support local farmers and learn ways to get good value
*eat the freshest food - shortest time from field to table
*safely learn about the flavor and preparation of unfamiliar vegetables and fruit.
Looking for the best quality? Get there early.
While the farmers are setting up, it's easier to see what's available and the condition of the produce.
Looking for bargains? Cruise the market late in the day.
Farmers maybe willing to negotiate price, because it's more practical to take money than to transport unsold produce.
1. Say "hi" to the farmer. You'll be amazed at the rewards.
Last summer, I saw lamb's quarters with pink top leaves at a farmer's stand.
This clever farmer saved the seeds from the "weeds" in her garden, replanting this wild edible in another spot. After a few years of selective breeding for pink leaves, the farmer now has enough seeds to sell to a seed company.
Imagine that! A farmer has embraced a wild edible, lamb's quarters, and cultivated it for looks. The lines between farming and foraging are already merging.
2. Walk the entire market before buying anything. Notice the condition and the price of what is available.
3. Eat samples offered. Get an idea of the flavor and texture of unfamiliar items and find new ways to enjoy what you already love.
4. Once you decide where to buy, look at everything offered. If an individual fruit or vegetable has a bruise or a bit of damage on one spot, negotiate the price.
Disclaimer: The item has to have the right texture and the right color; it can't be overripe, crushed or moldy.
Next time, we'll head out to our neighborhoods.