Shopping the Market

We will be kicking off the “Eat Dubuque County!” challenge at the Dubuque Farmers Market on Sept 16.  While I enjoy going to the farmers market, I know next week I will have to be focused to get the items our family will need for the week.  If budget is important to you, advance research will also be key.  (Check out our upcoming blog “Take a Penny, Leave a Penny: Eating Local on a Budget.”)  Thankfully, the Dubuque Farmers Market website lists all their vendors and gives a short bio of their products, so you can do a little pre-planning before heading out. So take that shopping list and let’s get started!

Here are some tips for shopping the market from some experienced market-goers:

The early bird gets the apple.  It pays to come early, especially if you want a good parking spot downtown.  Coming early also offers the best variety of products before the majority of market-goers start rolling in.

Know what’s local and in season.  Let’s face it, we live in Iowa.  While there is a bounty of produce, meats, and cheeses available here, you will likely never find a locally grown banana no matter how hard you try.  September is an awesome time to shop the farmers market because many fruits and vegetables are available.  Be realistic and know what to expect.  Take a look here to find traditionally available produce for every month.

Bring your own bag.  Bringing your own canvas shopping bag or basket from home can help minimize the amount of items you have to carry through the market and consolidates them into one easy-to-carry bag.  If you plan on getting a lot of meats or items that should be kept cool, consider bringing your own insulated cooler bag to keep these items cool while you shop.

Try something new.  The farmers market is a great chance to try something you have never tried before.  The vendors are experts on their products, so don’t hesitate to ask what something is, or how you can use a new item in this week’s meal plan.

Ask Questions. Personal interactions are ten times greater at the farmers market than on your traditional supermarket shopping trip.  Take advantage of the wealth of knowledge these vendors have.  One conversation may result in a new family favorite.  You never know until you ask!

Dress for the weather. The market goes on rain or shine, so dress for the weather.  September mornings may get cool, so be sure to grab a jacket and some comfortable walking shoes.

Hopefully these tips will help you and your family this weekend! I can’t wait to get started on our challenge!  We’ll see you at the market!  #eatdubuque

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