Laura Avery, the 36-year-veteran supervisor of the Santa Monica Farmers’ Markets (open Wednesdays, Saturdays, and Sundays), shares a few pointers on navigating produce paradise.
Take a lap before you buy: “There is lots to sample, and you can ask other customers where they got that lovely bunch of purslane or those golden pears.”
Pick brains before you pick fruits: “Ask the farmer what’s best right now, especially if you’re not sure which variety of peach, plum, or pluot to choose. Some stone fruits may be hitting their peak, while others would benefit from an extra week.”
Follow the crowd: “Some farmers have something really special that attracts customers to their stand. Find out what all the fuss is about.”
Ugly can be pretty: “ ‘Canning grade’ or ‘distressed’ produce is discounted because it’s ready to be consumed in the next day or so. Use it in your cooking or to make a sauce or jam.”
Break your hundos: “No one likes to see Ben first thing in the morning. Ones, fives, and tens are most appreciated.”
Thank your farmers: “If you like what they are selling, say so!”