Maui resident Dania Novack is a farmers market regular. She’s also publisher of Edible Hawaiian Islands, a quarterly print and digital magazine that focuses on delicious, nutritious food and the people who produce it.
“We all need to eat, and getting food directly from sources—farmers, ranchers, and fishermen—is the best way,” Novack says.
“When I travel, the first thing I do is look for farmers markets because I know they’re going to have plenty of excellent choices and I’m going to discover or learn something new—maybe both. Food not only nourishes people, it connects and inspires them. Seeing what’s available at farmers markets, listening to shoppers and observing what they’re buying reveals a lot about a community.”
Be aware that some so-called farmers markets have just as many crafters, and there are some vendors who may repackage produce from big-box retailers like Costco and pass them off as locally grown.
The statewide Farm Guide that appears in Edible Hawaiian Islands includes about 40 “true” farmers markets—so-called, according to Novack, because all the food they sell is Hawai‘i grown. This year marks the 10th anniversary of the guide.
Here’s how to make the most of your farmers market experience:
- Wear comfortable clothing and footwear. Bring a hat and jacket in case of rain.
- Bring bags, baskets, or a cart with wheels to carry your purchases. Keep a cooler in your car for items that must be chilled.
- Go early to get the best selection. Go late to take advantage of possible discounts.
- Allow ample time for browsing. Scope out the entire market first to see all the offerings and compare prices before buying.
- Bring cash, as most vendors accept cash only. For quick and easy transactions, be sure you have small denominations (nothing larger than a $10 bill).
- Talk story with farmers. Ask about growing techniques, the health benefits of their crops, and their favorite ways to prepare them. Strike up a conversation with the person standing in line next to you. Enjoy the camaraderie!