Tips for smart, safe shopping at farm markets

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Monday, June 22, 2015

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- Farmers markets are a great place for fresh fruits & vegetables, and for discovering varieties you won't see in supermarkets.

And summer is prime time for those markets.

To make the most of this great opportunity, dietitians suggest asking a few questions.

Whether it's a new type of produce or an old favorite, don't be afraid to ask what it is? and how do I use it?

Many new and heirloom varieties of tomatoes, peppers, and other vegetables are appearing in markets, and they may need to be prepared in a slightly different way from more familiar ones.

A second question - where did it come from?

Vendors don't necessarily grow everything they sell.

Third, do you use pesticides? - don't assume all farm market produce is organic!

Fourth, ask where the vendors wash their hands at the market? and have they had any training in food safety.

Experts also advise following these safety basics.

**Bag produce separately from meat.

**Bring an insulated bag or cooler to transport meat and other perishables home.

**Finally, don't buy perishable items at the market like meat or eggs unless they have been properly chilled there.

Summer heat can quickly push food temperatures to bacteria-friendly levels.

For more advice on farm market shopping, check out the FDA's blog on the topic.