An assortment of locally grown veggies can be found at farmer's markets. Check out these little tiny squash!

An assortment of locally grown veggies can be found at farmers markets. Check out these little tiny summer squash!

In Los Angeles, we have farmers markets year round and it’s great! Always a good variety of veggies and fruits that are locally grown from farmers around the area. You’ll find a lot more interesting items and see produce in their real form! Vegetables grow in all different odd shapes and sizes that you don’t get to see in the grocery stores. Grocery stores filter out the “undesirable” looking produce because they don’t think they will sell. You will also see different colors of produce you thought were one color only. For example, carrots can be purple, orange, yellow, and light orange! Grocery stores only get the carrots that are the bright orange color, but they come in so many different colors. Farmers markets are definitely a fun way to shop for your groceries, and you’ll be putting your money into the local economy too. They usually have more than just produce. You’ll see bakeries, hot foods, seafood, raw meats, clothing, jewelry, and all sorts of other vendors.

Shop local
All the vendors at the markets are small local farmers that usually depend on markets to sell their food. Many of them are organic certified too! Other vendors are also locals who probably set up their booths at markets each day of the week. You’re definitely ensuring that your money gets put back into the local economy.

Interact with the local community
People from the community usually come out to these markets in droves. They are usually weekly events that locals know about and will be sure to go to as often as they can. Sometimes vendors are people who also live in the area. I’ve always had a good experience at these markets and everyone is usually very friendly. It’s hard to find anyone who isn’t smiling or having a good time.

Earth-friendly
Since all the vendors are local, you know the food you buy isn’t trucked or flown in from another country. Less transportation to get the food to you! This definitely saves on gas and there will be less pollution in the air. It’ll be some of the freshest produce you’ll be able to get, other than growing your own food. When food has to be imported from far away, it’s already been picked for a few days and is beginning to lose its freshness.

Greater variety and buying in season
You can get fruit of any kind at the store, but it might not taste the way it should. When produce isn’t in season, then it really doesn’t taste very good at all. There are certain peak seasons for every kind of produce. Farmers markets will always be selling what’s in season at the time. You won’t see any berries in the winter or melons in the spring. In Los Angeles, our growing seasons are much longer than other states and we get a lot more variety year round.

You’ll also be able to find purple carrots! Some booths sell all different kinds of pluots and plums and oranges. The grocery store usually has only one kind of each fruit. I found these purple bell peppers in the picture below this weekend actually. The person I talked to didn’t even know if they had a specific name. I’m just calling them purple bell peppers. They are about as sweet as red bell peppers, but these were much smaller and thinner. It’s a lot more interesting to shop at a farmer’s market to see all the unusual produce that aren’t allowed into the grocery stores.

Purple bell peppers!

Purple bell peppers!

Farmer’s market deals
What would this post be without some kind of tip to save money? The prices at farmer’s markets I usually find depend on the area. Most of the time they are very reasonable and comparable to shopping at a brick and mortar store. Sometimes, I feel like the prices are higher, but the produce is fresher and is more worth it most of the time. The best way to score deals is to go at the last half hour the market is open. Vendors will mark down their prices to try to sell as much as possible so that they don’t have to bring it back home. Another thing you can do is to buy more and ask for a lower price since you are buying a lot. Many vendors are willing to make deals and don’t mind this at all.

Do you frequent a local farmers market? What’s the most unusual item you have found so far?


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