Farmers market color.

A little market color.

Everyone knows that farmers markets are supposed to be the perfect setting for a first date. Check out any Top Ten dating list, and ‘Farmers Markets’ are right up there with ‘It’s Just Lunch’ and ‘Let’s Grab a Coffee.’ If you believe all the hype, you might think farmers markets were created just so starry-eyed couples could fall head over heels in love.

Easy peasy, right? But not so fast. What these lists never tell you is why farmers markets make such a great first date. They just point you to your local market, turn you loose amongst the broccoli and cauliflower, and assume that “magic” will ensue.

As someone who has watched innumerable first dates from across my market table (you guys are easy to spot!), take my word for it: cultivating romance at farmers market is no sure thing. So here—in the name of love—are 5 insider tips for ‘Farmers Market First Date Success’ that I’ve gleaned over the years.

1) It All Starts With Preparation. A perfect first date starts with planning. And when it comes to farmers markets, I’m talking weeks (or even months) in advance. What’s in season this time of year? Which farmer has the crispest apples? Which baker brings the flakiest croissants? You’ve got to do your research—and this means flying solo for a while—if you ever hope to make a great first impression. And first impressions matter, right? So don’t be the person who asks for tomatoes in the middle February… that’s a universal deal breaker.

Every flame starts with a simple spark. Just no infernos at market, please.

Every flame starts with a simple spark. Just no raging infernos at market, please.

2) Great Relationships Require Great Communication. Everybody has first date jitters; it’s only natural. So here’s a million dollar tip: talk to your farmers, get to know them, and hone your communication skills. This way even if you have butterflies before your first date, you’ll recognize plenty of familiar faces as you navigate your way through market. By meeting your farmer weeks ahead of time, you not only practice your speaking skills, you make yourself feel more at home in your local market.

“Ain’t no thang, just chillin with my farmer homies!” You can now say this and totally get away with it… as long as you use outrageous hand gestures. Style points count, people.

3) Boring people get bored. Variety is the spice of life, and farmers markets are the perfect place to experiment with new flavors. Nobody wants to be boring. Expand your horizons, and buy a vegetable you’ve never eaten—or even heard of—before. Kohl rabi anyone? How about some pak choi sauteed in olive oil? If you’re going to impress your date, speak the farmers market language: know the terrain as well as the terroir.

4) Actually go on a date. Wait a minute, how can this be so far down the list? Remember the headline: this isn’t just any first date. It’s the Perfect First Date.

You can pick a peck of peppers, but don't pepper a peck of pickers... it's bad first date etiquette.

As cool as it may seem, saying “pick a peck of peppers, don’t pepper packs of pickers” 3 times fast will NEVER impress your date.

Gentlemen, don’t pull a Bruno Mars. Buy her flowers, and be her man. Better yet, give the moment a little extra pizzaz. Since you’ve already gotten to know the farmer (right?), you can subtlely mention why these flowers only grow this time of year, and only in this region. But before you start showing off too much, take her to find some Green Zebra tomatoes.

Ladies, you don’t get a free pass either. Buy him a package of bacon from the organic livestock farmer, and tell him why Berkshire pigs marble so much more evenly than Yorkshires. Oh, and while you’re at it, suggest visiting the farm in a few weeks to see the animals in person. Road trip anyone?

5) Plan the perfect dinner together. Plan the perfect dinner? But wasn’t this just a “farmers market first date”?

[Pause]. Wait a minute… did you just land me a second date?

Just doing my job folks (wink wink), no thanks necessary. See you next week at farmers market!

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