What to know, bring, consider, and find out before going almost anywhere.
before you go to the farmers' market DO NOT USE
"There are many fantastic things at the market, so don't stick to your shopping list or you're going to miss out on all the best stuff," says Christine Farren, communications manager of the Center for Urban Education About Sustainable Agriculture, which runs the Ferry Plaza Farmers' Market, in San Francisco. Instead, talk to the farmers to find out what's freshest right now.
Take a taste of any available samples, including the misshapen tomatoes. "Unlike in the supermarket, diversity and flavor are paramount, not cosmetic perfection," says Farren.
Bring a tote bag, because you'll cut your trip short if a plastic bag full of potatoes is digging into your hand.
For the best selection, go as soon as the market opens. On the other hand, if you're making pies, sauces, or other recipes that don't call for blemish-free produce, go at the end of the day to scoop up damaged goods, which are usually marked down, says Amy Nicholson, a farmer from Geneva, New York, who sells fruit at several farmers' markets in her area.