Summer weather in Chicago took its sweet time, but it’s finally here and with it comes farmers market season. Whether you like to hit up your local farmers market to get the freshest produce and locally-sourced products — or maybe just for the free samples — it’s not a bad way to spend your lunch break. This hour, Morning Shift takes the show on the road to SOAR Farmers Market right outside Chicago’s Museum of Contemporary Art in Streeterville. We bring you the ultimate consumer’s guide to the farmer’s market: What to buy, what to bring, and how to get the best price.
WBEZ’s Monica Eng’s Farmers Market Tips:
- Bring cash: “Some vendors do take credit cards. More and more are taking Link, the SNAP program in Chicago.”
- Bring a bag: “I like to bring an insulated bag. […] Fresh arugula can get wilted fast on a hot day. You’re going to want an insulated bag with an ice pack.”
- Bring yogurt containers: “How many times have you had berries get smushed? Protect your berries.”
- Try your luck with haggling: “Some vendors are superstitious and really want to make that first sale […] or maybe even that last sale of the day” because vendors may not want to take a large amount of product home with them.
- Don’t feel bad about paying a little more for fresh, local produce: “About 48 percent of the money that you spend [on local products] will be recirculated into the local economy, whereas about 14 percent of a big corporation purchase will be recirculated into the local economy.”
- Pace yourself. “Don’t be like Monica. Don’t look at everything, say ‘That’s gorgeous, give me 10 of those.’ You go broke fast and it will go bad in your fridge fast. Take a once around, think about how many nights this week you’ll be home to cook, think of your cooking skills, and then buy accordingly.”
Monica Eng, WBEZ Reporter
Chad Nichols, farmers market manager of Nichols Farms
Ambrose Erkenswick, Chicagoland farmers market manager of River Valley Ranch
Adrienne Detanico, lead garden educator with TheOrganicGardener.net
Debbie Gershbein, president of the SOAR organization