1. Make a shopping list - A list will keep you on task and help ensure you don't over (or under) buy.
2. Bring cash - More and more vendors accept checks and credit cards these days, but your best bet is to bring cash. And, bring a little more than you think you'll need until you get a feel for how much you spend each time.
3. Use your own shopping bags - If you have sturdy canvas or fabric bags, bring those. They'll hold up better and last longer. Vendors will be grateful if you bring any old plastic bag, though, too. Consider bringing smaller sacks or ziploc bags to store loose produce in larger bags to prevent little things from being smashed.
4. Be flexible - Buying seasonally and locally means that you have to be open to whatever the land produces. So, keep an open mind if you can't find your favorite item and select a substitute. Vendors will be happy to help you select an equally tasty alternative.
5. Don't be afraid to ask questions - If you run into an unidentified veggie - Ask. See an herb you've never used before? Ask. Want to know what's in that bread? Ask. Vendors are used to fielding these questions and you will become a more savvy shopper if you get answers to them.
6. Taste - Many vendors offer samples. Tasting is a great opportunity to "try before you buy" but also a chance for you to get in there and ask those questions.
7. Arrive early - Many of the most popular items sell out, so getting to the market early is the best way to be sure you get what you want. And, on the hottest days, it keeps you a bit cooler, too.
Have tips to share with new market visitors? We'd love to hear them!