Photo courtesy of dogtired on Flickr
I've been asked a few times now about "Market Haunting". I started to try and quickly explain the concept, but found (as usual) that I was going on for quite a while. Although I didn't take the photo shown above, it is my local market. You'll find me there almost every Saturday.
Mostly, if I have a specific idea of what I need to get at the market I'll go first thing in the morning. However, if the shopping list consists of fruit, veg and meat then that is a day for haunting.
Market haunting is a little risky, in that you could arrive home again empty handed but the rewards can be great, once you get the hang of it. Try to think of it as a bit of fun. You may have to be prepared to bulk buy some things in order to get a discount and process some of those things for freezing once your get home.
I'm lucky because my market is on a Saturday, which is the last food market of the week. If the stall owners don't sell their produce today, they have to throw it away, eat it themselves (equivalent to throwing it away in a vendor's eyes) or find some way of safely storing the produce and cross their fingers hoping that its still in a good enough condition to sell on Monday which is hard to do because they all go to the wholesalers on Monday and collect more fresh produce and people always pick the pretty fruit.
The idea is to go to the market, armed with a pocket full of change to make quick transactions, at the very end of the day. You'll have to get to know your market and find out roughly when the vendors start to pack up for the day and go about 20 minutes before that. You'll find that you are one of the only people around.
You need thick skin and a bit of an attitude to make this work. Being a bit brazen won't do you any harm either. Quickly scan the stalls to see what's left and what you would be interested in buying. I once took an entire box of mixed peppers off a vendor's hands for less than a quarter of the original price. If I'd only wanted one or two peppers then I'm sure he would have insisted on full price or close to it, as it was he was happy to have one less thing to store and peppers don't store well
Your plan is to get as much produce as possible, for as little as possible without pissing anyone off. I've been doing it for so long now the Vendors know me and they'll call out as I pass to let me know what they have left. They know I'm no idiot and they'll never be able to fob me off with rubbish so now I do pretty well. Meat, fresh fish and seafood are also easy to get for very little money, as well as baked goods.
Go on, give it a go. Worst case scenario, you get some fresh air and meet a few new people. Where's the harm.