7 tips for smart market shopping
Metro Vancouver is positively exploding with farmers markets this summer! While fans of fresh can expect to find the best in locally-grown, seasonal foods each week at VFM’s seven farmers markets, we thought we’d pass along some extra tips for making the most of your shop this season…
1. Come early for best selection
The early bird does indeed get the worm, especially if the worm is a limited amount of sought-after produce just coming into season at the markets. Whether it’s those very first strawberries in June, or the vine-ripened field tomatoes of early August, it pays to arrive early and beat the later-rising crowds. And besides, no one wants to miss out on their morning Purebread croissant, no one.
Whether you’re looking for organic or conventional product, most markets feature a range of price options for various budgets. Don’t believe us? Check out this blog post from Well Fed Flat Broke author Emily Wight on how she turned a $20 shop at Main St. Station Market into four dinners and two work lunches.
It’s a good idea do a lap or two around the market before you impulsively reach for those market tokens – prices can vary a lot for similar items and you can always check with the producer for more info on their particular growing methods.
3. Ask for flats and B-grade produce
Buying in bulk to freeze for use later is a great way to save some dollars at the markets. Flats of fruits and veggies are available at discounted volume prices from some VFM farmers, but you may need to request them before market. If you’re canning, preserving, or cooking things that day, inquire with the vendor if they have any B and C grade produce they’re selling for a reduced price – chances are they do.
VFM Market Members have access to exclusive discounts from our vendors on Member Days, which happen at all Vancouver Farmers Markets on the first week of the month. Deals range with each vendor, and can be things like a straight percentage discount (i.e. 20%), buy one get one free, free gift with purchase, or a dollar amount off a particular item. Members also save 15% on VFM Dry Goods like totes bags, reusable produce bags, and more! Market Memberships start at just $20/year and can be purchased at the Info Tent at any VFM market. More info on the program at this page.
5. Bring cash or grab Market Money before you shop
Many VFM vendors don’t accept credit or debit, so it’s a good idea to bring cash to the markets. Not only will it help you stay on budget, but vendors prefer it to any other form of payment. If you happen to forget, don’t panic – we sell Market Money tokens at the info booth at all of our market locations.
We love our VFM dog friends but not everyone is comfortable with them at the markets. We ask those shoppers bringing dogs to remember a few key points of petiquette: 1) keep your dog on a short leash to avoid blocking or tripping people in the market, 2) be especially mindful of other dogs and children in the market, 3) be respectful when bringing dogs into vendor stalls – keep them away from product and do not tie them up to tents, 4) keep your eyes on your dog at all times and clean up after them!
Bring your own bag, please! VFM has begun the process of eliminating single use plastic items at all of our markets – you can help by bringing your totes, baskets, and even reusable containers for fragile items like fruit and berries. A range of market totes and reusable produce bags are also available for purchase at the info tent – view a selection here.