The summer is moving into fall, slowly, as each day gets a little cooler. In Vancouver we tend to stay hot through September so it is not quite time to mourn. It is time to start snapping up late summer deals at the market.
There are two main deals at the market right now: seconds and large crops.
It is the height of the stone fruit growing season and stone fruits ripen fast and don't transport well. If you want to make jam or pie or any sort of baked good with stone fruits, ask the vendor if they sell stone fruit "seconds". This is code for damaged fruit that is perhaps not a consumer's first choice, however, it tends to be ripe and sweet meaning it is perfect for canning and baking and saucing.
The best way to score deals on seconds is to, again, get to know your farmer.
Let them know you are wanting to make jam or preserves or what have you
and that you are looking for seconds. Of course be polite and wait
until they aren't super busy with other customers.
The heat wave also leads to large amounts of some produce ripening at the same time, this is what I mean by large crops. Cucumbers, for example, were plentiful last weekend at Klipper's and were on sale for a buck a cucumber, any size! That is a great deal for a certified organic, locally-grown cucumber.
As with the seconds, just keep your eye out for possibilities and ask your local farmers. Because we don't really live in a bargaining culture we can think that it's rude to ask for discounts, it's not. Just let them know that you are trying to feed yourself and your family healthy food on a limited budget and ask if they are expecting any large crops. Maybe they have bulk discounts and you can pair up with a few friends? It never hurts to ask.
Good luck and happy hunting! I would love to hear about success stories!
Shonagh explores the guts of food in An Offal Experiment.