Shopping at local farmer’s markets is a great way to eat organic foods while supporting your local economy. But during the pandemic, as people have been forced to quarantine and social distance, many wonder if shopping at farmer’s markets is safe?
In many ways, shopping at your local farmer’s market can be an even safer experience than shopping at an indoor supermarket. Having said that, there are still some precautions you will want to take.
Be Careful with Selection
Not all farmer’s markets will be following the same safety protocols. If you have a choice of markets in your local area, attend the ones that are implementing optimal safety procedures. These procedures will include controlling traffic in and out, enforcing social distancing, and requiring masks to be worn by customers and vendors.
All that being said, open-air markets are a healthier option right now than enclosed markets, so aim for those if you can.
Avoid Busy Times
It’s a good idea to keep track of your market’s social media pages and monitor any changes to their hours of operation. Many stores and markets are offering customers extended shopping hours to avoid crowds.
Often people try and get to the market in the early morning when it first opens up, as this is often a great way to get a run on the best produce and meats. But consider staggering the times you go. Try later morning and afternoons to be safe for the next few months. Should you arrive and the market is very crowded, think about grabbing a coffee or running another errand and coming back a bit later.
Go for Pre-Bagged Items
Look for vendors that are offering pre-bagged items. This is a good option because it means their produce or baked goods haven’t been sitting out in the open, exposed to the elements, and who knows what else. Also, look for vendors who have hand-washing stations or have hand wipes available.
Bag Your Own Food
If none of the vendors at your local market are offering pre-bagged items, then be sure to bag your own items, then hand the bag to the vendor.
Who doesn’t love a tasty free sample? Many markets aren’t offering samples right now but if your market is, avoid them.
When you get home be sure to wash your hands well before and after you handle all of your bags. Discard (or recycle) any non-reusable bags and be sure to wash your produce thoroughly and dry it well before storing it for later use.
Farmer’s markets are a great way to buy fresh foods and support the local economy. As long as you follow these safety tips, there’s no reason you can’t enjoy your local market at this time.