Many people get to farmer's markets early for the best selection, but Bishop offers another strategy: Go late and buy more, and be willing to haggle.
“Farmers, especially later in the day, have a real incentive not to want to bring back whatever it is they brought to the market,” Bishop says. “Especially if you're willing to buy an extra pound of two, try to bargain. The worst a farmer can do is say no.”
Cheryl Huber, assistant director for Grow NYC, which runs 53 greenmarkets around New York City, says the key at markets is to shop around. To make things easier, find a market manager running things — each greenmarket has one — and ask her advice.
“It's a great way to find out who has a good deal, what's new and what's in season,” she says.
The trade-off is you usually have to work at the co-op for several hours a month and be involved in decisions about how the co-op is run. Some co-ops allow nonmembers to buy produce but usually charge them higher prices.
Check this online directory to find a co-op in your area: www.co
But make sure you pick the right frozen vegetables to buy.
“With the exception of peas that are picked the same day they're bought, frozen peas are usually sweeter than fresh peas at a regular supermarket,” Bishop said.
Frozen spinach can be a good buy in part because it cuts down on the effort of cleaning and chopping, particularly since spinach cooks down so much.
Frozen vegetables are usually better used in combo dishes like soup, stew or risotto than on their own, he said.