Transactions are getting quicker, easier, more digital, less personal. At convenience stores and even grocery stores you can check yourself out. In a growing number of stores, you can pay with your phone.
Sometimes, simple transactions come at a cost.
But one marketplace remains mostly unchanged by technology and mostly un-marred by fees: the farmer's market. There, you can still find tables piled high with fresh fruits and veggies, see the same familiar faces selling flowers or handmade soaps, try hummus and dips made the day before, and interact with the farmers who grew your food.
Even though an increasing number of market's accept food stamps, prices are higher than what you'd find at a typical grocery store. Still, there are deals to be had — sometimes if you're willing to haggle a little bit, other times if you're willing to buy in bulk.
At the farmer's market in Los Angeles, we brought $20 and left with pounds of strawberries -- enough for two pies -- seven avocados, a half-dozen eggs, two nectarines and two donut peaches, the first stone fruit of the season.
A few tips for how to make the most of your money at the farmer's market:
- Buy in bulk: if you have a vendor you like, buy a few things from them, they're more likely to throw in something extra or knock a dollar off the price
- Don't pick out your own fruit: ask the farmer what's ripe, and if they have time, have them pick out what you're looking for. You'll end up with the best tasting fruit, and if you ask for "$4 worth of ____" instead of picking it out yourself and having them weigh it later, you'll stay on budget.
- Buy in season. Produce is cheapest when it's in season, no matter where you're buying.
- Try things! Take advantage of free samples and deals on new products or seasonal specials.