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healthy bytes: to market, to market!

Back before the development of franchise supermarkets and hypermarkets, people visited open-air markets to buy their fresh produce. Butchers, farmers and bakers set up stalls and sold their wares by the kilogram.

Nowadays, in the midst of online shopping and pre-packaged meals, markets still draw large crowds. Try visiting the Queen Victoria Market on the weekend – half of Melbourne seems to have turned up with their trolleys and green bags. Markets are still popular because the produce is fresher, cheaper and – from experience – more delicious too.

Tom, 19, has bought his fruit, vegetables and meat from the Queen Victoria Market every Saturday for the past two years. Here are his top tips for market shopping:

1. Work out the cheapest days and times.

On Saturday afternoons the produce at the Vic market drops heavily in price just before closing time, with some crazy deals like fifty cents per kilogram for bananas.

2. Take someone with you.

At busy times you’ll have to duck in and out of each stall, juggling coins, purchases and/or a shopping list. Having someone doing the packing and someone else paying the money makes this an easier process, especially when you have other people pushing past you.

3. Take small change.

How would you feel if someone tried to pay you $2 with a $50 note, and then demand change? Markets are not supermarkets – if you only plan on spending a few dollars, bring a few dollars. You’ll find the sellers much kinder.

4. Bring your own bags.

The bags supplied by most stalls are smaller than those at the supermarket and probably won’t have handles, so be sure to bring reusable bags to make the carrying easier. Some people bring their own trolleys, but this makes it difficult for everyone on busy days – cue trodden feet and traffic jams in the aisles!

5. Don’t buy the first thing you see.

Chances are the stalls closest the entrance of the market charge more for food than the ones hidden in the centre, so survey the whole market before you start buying – otherwise you could miss out on a better deal!

(Image credit)

How often do you shop at a market? What are your experiences?

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