FAQs on Farmers' Markets | Shelf Life Advice

Your questions about farmers markets answered! Where to find them, what to buy, how to store produce, and much more.

What signs indicate a sanitary farmers’ market?

Farmers’ markets are regulated by  state and local authorities. There  a great many limitations and restrictions concerning what and how foods can be sold. Permits and licenses are often required.   Nevertheless, consumers should be alert to conditions that may indicate too little effort to protect visitors from contamination.


Look around.  You should be able to answer “yes” to all these questions:


1. Are garbage cans covered?


What time of day is it best to go to a farmers’ market?

Go early for a few reasons:


1) you’ll enjoy the excursion more if you’re not walking around in the hottest time of day; in warm weather


2)  the quality of unrefrigerated produce can deteriorate as the day goes on


3) the best-looking produce will be grabbed up first, so, if you come late, you get your choice of picked-over items.


What should I bring to the farmers’ market?

Here’s a handy checklist:


• cash (A check or credit card may not be accepted.)


• comfortable shoes--and an umbrella, too if the clouds look threatening


• something to carry your purchases home in (a mesh bag or, better yet, a large straw basket so produce doesn’t get piled up on top of  other produce)


• your self-restraint (so that you don’t buy more than you can use soon)


• your observational skills (to be on the lookout for unsanitary conditions)

Exactly what defines a farmers’ market?

Some farmers’ markets are  small, involving only a few vendors and operating only once a week.  At the opposite end of the scale, some are huge weekend events involving hundreds of vendors and thousands of customers. What gives the happening a right to call itself a farmers’ market?  These are some characteristics outlined by the National AgLaw Center at the University of Arkansas:


• Farmers are present, selling items they’ve raised or created themselves to individual customers.


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