Farmer’s Market Strategies: Early or Late?

I like to get to the farmer’s market first thing in the morning. My parents like to go to the farmer’s market in the afternoon. It may seem like a simple question of timing, but there are other differences. Which do you prefer?

Advantages of Getting to the Market Early
For me, there are three primary advantages of getting to the market:

Fewer crowds. I like to get through the market quickly about an hour after it opens. By going early, I avoid most of the afternoon crowds. My market can get VERY crowded, as I discovered last Thanksgiving week, when the crowds arrived first thing.

Better Selection. Since my market is the second largest in Los Angeles, it’s also very popular. That means that certain things sell out fairly early. Since I go with a list, I like to arrive early to ensure I can find what I need.

Easier Parking. Most farmer’s markets in Los Angeles have pretty tight parking. By arriving early, I don’t have to fight for a spot.

Advantages of Getting to the Market Late
My parents don’t plan their menu ahead of time, so they go the market just to see what’s there and then decide what to eat that week. They like to go late in the day to take advantage of other aspects.

More Leisurely Visit. True, there are leisurely families in the morning at my market, but it gets more relaxed with each passing hour. Most of the activities are scheduled for later, which is great for families.

Lower Prices. As the day winds down, the farmers start to lower their prices and make deals so they don’t have to take the produce back to the farm, especially for items that won’t last until the next market.

Additional Activities. This isn’t necessarily true of all markets, but my market has children’s crafts, cookbook signings, and other events in the afternoon.

There’s no right or wrong way to shop the farmer’s market, just the way that works for you. Since I plan my menu and shop at the farmer’s market before my other shopping trips, I like the early morning method. If you shop an afternoon market, then the deals might allow you to plan your menu around the items you find at the market.

So which do you prefer – more selection or saving money?

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