Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Have a Plan for Your Market Visits

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Have a Plan for Your Market Visits

Article excerpt

It's farmers market time again, a time of rebirth and renewal for local agriculture but also resolutions for smarter shopping and cooking.

No more aspirational farmers market shopping sprees that leave us with a kitchen full of wilted arugula, moldy berries and severe guilt by week's end. No, this year we resolve to plan ahead, shop smart and embrace the realities of our busy schedules, while still making spectacular meals from local produce, of course.

And just how will we pull this off? With the help of authors and farmers-market veterans who offer expert advice on how to make the most of fresh-produce shopping. They are:

Laura C. Martin ("The Green Market Baking Book"), Janine MacLachlan ("Farmers Markets of the Heartland") and Anna Blessing ("Locally Grown: Portraits of Artisanal Farmers in America's Heartland").

Strategic marketing:

Some advice may seem contradictory (such as make a list versus be inspired by the offerings) but you'll know which tips to follow based on your market priorities.

* When you arrive at the market, take a leisurely trip around to survey the offerings before you start buying.

* Be flexible. Instead of making a shopping list, wait and buy what looks the best and freshest.

* Make a plan and think realistically about how much time you will have to cook in the coming week.

* Take your recipes (or cookbook) with you so as things catch your eye, you can determine how best to use them.

* Talk to the farmers about produce to learn how to store it, which parts are edible and how long it will stay fresh.

* Don't overbuy. It's easy to get carried away when you're surrounded by such wonderful produce but only buy what you think you'll be able to use.

* Arrive early for the best selection and freshest products. Or arrive late for last-minute deals on the produce farmers want to move before heading home. …

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