Gail Simmons Tips For How To Shop Farmers’ Markets

Caroline McCloskey
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Gail Simmons Launches #LoveOfLeaves Program With Pure Leaf Iced Tea

Photo Courtesy of Pure Leaf Iced Tea

Gail Simmons, star of Bravo’s Top Chef, loves all food, and is an expert when it comes to buying produce. Her passion for fresh food and vegetables only deepened when she began working with Wholesome Wave, a non-profit organization that works with farmers’ markets across the country to make nutritious food more readily available and affordable, particularly in low-income urban and rural areas.
Another sign that she is truly farmers’ market obsessed? Her recent wedding was even farmers’ market themed! Guests took home bags of fresh ingredients and flowers. Now, if that’s not devotion we don’t know what is.
We caught up with Simmons at a luncheon for Pure Leaf Iced Tea and got her top tips for hitting the farmers’ market! We suggest taking notes.
1. Explore the many markets around you. 
Don’t be afraid to try different markets to see how the produce compares, Simmons suggests. “For ten years I lived across from Union Square in New York City, so I was always shopping at their farmers market, which is the biggest in the city. I still shop there all the time.” Simmons says. “But my local one is now in Brooklyn at Carroll Park every Sunday. There are so many great markets all over the city.”
2. Try something new.  
“If you go to the farmers market right now you will see radishes everywhere! My new favorites are the long pink radishes, called breakfast radishes, opposed to the round ones. Needless to say, all of my wedding gift bags had breakfast radishes in them,” Simmons told us. Trying new things is certainly part of the fun of going to farmers markets. So don’t be shy when it comes to trying new things, you may find a new staple!
3. Buy in bulk what you love. 
“I buy seedless cucumbers by the dozen this time of year. They’re crunchy and great—you can eat them whole and you don’t need to peel them. I’ve been putting them in everything.”
4. Plan for spontaneity.    
“Just this morning there were already strawberries being sold and they had amazing wildflowers that I wanted to fill my home with,” Simmons told us.  It’s smart to plan ahead of your visit, but it’s also a good idea to leave some wiggle room for those strawberries you didn’t know would be available.
5. Know your seasons.  
“I feel like it’s all about the season and time of year. Even now there are still a lot of apples and kale. There will always be my staples, but it’s fun to use the ingredients unique to the season,” Simmons says. She advises to know what will be in or out of season, so that you know what to expect on your visit, which will help you plan what to buy.
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