Ways to approach the farmers market

A couple of weeks ago, I was working on a story about the new Veggie Mobile associated with the Quad-Cities Food Hub and the Freight House Farmers’ Market.

There were thousands of people at the downtown Davenport site on a sunny Saturday morning.

Hence, I realize many of you have already shopped at local markets this summer. But if you are like my family, we have been out-of-town consistently, and only now are getting to a regular Quad-Cities summer routine

That means farmers’ markets, in the local area. Some tips from the TOPS weight-loss organization came my way in June, and you may find some to be helpful. (Not #4 in my book!)

Here they are:

1. Get in some exercise and scope out the best produce and prices by walking all the way around the market and looking at each booth before returning to make your purchases.

2. Be on the lookout for fresh-cut or potted herbs and spices that you can use as low-cal seasoning alternatives to butter, sour cream, dressings and mayonnaise.

3. Load up on greens and legumes, including beans, peas and lentils. Vegetables like carrots, celery, cauliflower, broccoli and zucchini are delicious raw and easy to cut up for a quick snack or lunch.

4. Steer clear of stands with homemade goodies, such as pies, pastries and cookies, as well as vendors selling ice cream or anything fried.

5. Be sure to check labels on homemade jams, jellies, preserves or chutneys, as they may be high in sugar or salt. Ask the sellers about their ingredients.

6. Try to limit buying large amounts of produce that are also starches, including potatoes, corn, pumpkin and some types of squash and peas.

7. Keep an eye out for new foods to try. Don’t be afraid to ask about an unfamiliar fruit or vegetable. Most vendors are happy to explain what it is and how you can prepare it at home.

8. Talk to vendors about which produce will keep for a long time or is good for canning or freezing. Apples, potatoes, squash and garlic will keep for many weeks or months when stored properly.