A harsh reality hit me this past Saturday. Believe it or not, I was woefully unprepared to bring everything I wanted home from the farmers market.
It wasn’t obvious to me at first. After all I had remembered to stop at the ATM for cash, brought with me my large market bag, and even had my trusty roll of plastic bio-bags to collect all the delicious summer greens (plastic is so 2008).
This was not a rookie farmers market mistake I made, this was more of a seasonal oversight. Dedicated farmers market shoppers (particularly fruit lovers) have a special concern in the summer that does not exist in the winter: soft produce.
Nothing is sadder than arriving home from the farmers market and finding your bags full of mashed plums and tomato sauce. If you purchase a decent amount of produce you are almost certain to have some fruit casualties if you rely on only one large market bag, even if you’re careful to place them at the top. The tender skins of summer fruit are simply too delicate to withstand any pressure, whether it’s from weight, neighboring produce or the sides of your market bag.
Losing produce is even more heartbreaking when you realize that those stone fruits and heirloom tomatoes could have easily cost upwards of $3.50 per pound.
Luckily there are ways to avoid this tragedy. I recommend a two tiered approach. First, bring a few stackable tupper containers. You want them to be big enough that they allow two or three fruits to fit comfortably inside without pressure from the lid, and without the fruits pressing too firmly against each other.
On the other hand, you don’t want the fruits rolling around inside the tupper. You can avoid this if you place the fruits inside the tupper while they are still inside their paper or plastic bag. Be particularly careful if any of the fruit or tomatoes you purchase have protruding stems, since these can puncture and ruin neighboring fruits.
It is also useful to bring a second, smaller market bag so you can keep your delicate produce completely separate from your heavier purchases. This will save you from worrying about what goes where in your bag and you can focus all your energy on finding the best produce.
Glance through this checklist next time you head out to your local summer market to be sure you have everything you need.
Summertime Farmers Market Checklist
Don’t count on vendors taking credit cards or there being an ATM nearby.
2. 2 Large farmers market bags
One bag to carry the heavy stuff, and another (it can be smaller) for your delicate fruits and tupper.
3. 2-3 Medium-sized tupper containers
Look for wider, flatter containers that can keep peaches and plums in a single layer, stems facing down.
4. Small biodegradable or green bags for produce
These are to carry loose greens and other produce.
It’s summer, and bright out!
Farmers market produce is inspiring and the market changes every week. If you’re anything like me, you’ll want to capture the beauty.
How do you get your soft produce home safe from the farmers market?