Check out these simple mistakes that have easy fixes.
woman and baby at farmers market on designed background
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Fresh produce is one of the many perks of summer. If you aren't an avid gardener (or even if you are), one of the best places to find the freshest fruits and vegetables of the season is at the farmers' market. And as we get into the dog days of summer, farmers' markets are in full swing across the country. They're great for a lot of reasons: there are usually affordable options, everything is at peak ripeness and you can often find varieties of fruits, vegetables and herbs that you can't get at most grocery stores. Plus you get to know your local farmers, who not only put in invaluable work for our food system, but also are the experts on what they grow, which can be helpful for everything from storage tips to cooking suggestions. 

Before you grab your reusable shopping bags and head out the door, we thought we'd share some advice. Because there are certain things that you might do or say at the farmers' market that seem polite but are actually rude.

1. Touching the produce

Please keep your hands to yourself! Of course you want to pick the best produce, but handling something and then putting it back can make it less appealing for other customers—you could even damage an item and make it unsellable. This is the farmer's livelihood, after all. Instead, if you want to get a closer look at something, ask the vendor to pick it up for you or ask if they mind if you pick it up. A little bit of courtesy goes a long way. 

2. Asking lots of questions at peak times

Of course it's a great idea to ask farmers questions about their products … most of the time. During peak hours or if a queue is forming behind you, it's probably not the best idea. If a vendor is busy, they might not want to endlessly chat about how to use garlic scapes or when they will have your favorite summer veg. Remember, their ultimate goal is to sell to all of the farmers' market attendees, not just you. If you really have a burning question, make it quick and succinct when you're checking out or take a lap and come back when their booth has quieted down. 

3. Asking to change the price

Repeat after me: do not barter at the farmers' market. The farmers work really hard to produce what they are selling and identify their prices thoughtfully. If it's more expensive than you're used to, it's probably because their costs have gone up. A lot of people are struggling financially right now and it's OK if you need to pass on something because it's too expensive, but don't try to get a bargain by negotiating with the vendor. (It is OK to ask if they have any "seconds," which are discounted, sometimes-imperfect-but-totally-edible goods.) Also, many markets have programs like Double Up Food Bucks to help make shopping for fresh produce more affordable to those in need. Ask at the market manager's booth to learn more. 

4. Assuming you can use a credit card

While many vendors may have adapted to accepting credit cards during the pandemic for touchless transactions, don't assume that a vendor accepts something other than cash—and come prepared with smaller bills if you can. There's nothing more awkward than showing up with an armful of beautiful produce you can't purchase if the booth is cash only. When in doubt, ask before you start shopping. If they do take credit cards, don't be surprised if they pass their transaction fee along to you.

5. Showing up late to avoid the crowds

Similar to a restaurant, employees might find it a bit rude if you show up right before the market's scheduled closing time. Not only are the farmers likely to have started packing up, but you could lose out but missing out on their more popular items—or they could be completely sold out. If you're going to the market to do more serious grocery shopping and want to avoid the crowds, try showing up early instead. As an added bonus, you'll get your pick of the best produce available (trust us, it's worth the early morning alarm). 

Bottom Line  

With ample fresh produce, knowledgeable farmers and usually crowds of happy people, what's not to love about the farmers' market? For many of us at EatingWell, it's one of our favorite perks of summertime. That said, these tips can help you avoid doing something unintentionally rude on your next trip. Whether it's showing up early or remembering cash, a little know-how goes a long way.