As both a food science major and a restaurant cook, I've gotten a lot of exposure to fresh, in-season produce. Moreover, I've started to realize that buying local and in-season often gets you the best tasting produce. The farmer's market kicks that up a notch.

Most of us college kids on a budget tend to brush the farmer's market off, saying that it's a little too expensive or that you can't really tell the difference between a bag at the market or a package from Safeway anyway. However, I've found that getting a chance to work so closely with food makes you really look for the sweetest strawberries or the prettiest Romanescos.

Fall, Indian corn, corn
Kelsey Ragnini

The key to shopping at the farmer's market on a college student budget is to buy as much as you can while still making sure you take away only as much as you need. It might be a little easier to shop with friends or roommates so that you prevent buying too much only to leave it to rot in your fridge. If you're like me and have the appetite of a small bird, planning ahead helps. For example, a generously sized bunch of kale can go towards salads, smoothies and an Italian wedding soup throughout the week, while three baskets of strawberries can be eaten in the morning or saved for later to make a bright red strawberry crumble

#SpoonTip: The farmer's market comes to the UC Davis Quad from 11 AM to 2 PM on Wednesdays before moving downtown from 4 PM to 8 PM. Generally, the produce sold on campus is a little bit cheaper to better accommodate students.

1. Apple Juice 

I've never been one to buy juice to keep at home, but the apple juice at the Davis farmer's market is the one exception on my grocery list. Whether you buy half a gallon or 8 oz, this apple juice is incredible in the morning; it's sweet and refreshing without feeling like you drank high fructose corn syrup

2. Berries 

Annika Altura

This might be the third time I mention strawberries in this article, but it's only because I firmly believe in the powers of a bright red, juicy strawberry. One of my guiltiest pleasures is to eat them alongside a jar of Nutella. The blueberries and raspberries are amazing as well, and these are so easy and versatile to scatter all over your food, blend in smoothies, add to yogurt parfaits, toss in salads...the opportunities are endless. 

3. Citrus

Strangely enough, the citrus season has leaned over into the spring this year. Blood oranges, navel oranges, Cara Caras and oroblancos have been present at the market. I've always just loved to eat citrus by itself, and I find that they're most refreshing and best enjoyed after a workout or after dinner at the end of the night. 

4. Kale 

Annika Altura

Before acaí bowls and veganism took over the internet, kale was the 2015 health-food-craze of choice. While the hype has died down, the health benefits have definitely not strayed. Kale goes a long way–I love having it in Portuguese soup or blended together with some berries for a power smoothie. 

5. Broccolini & Cauliflower

cauliflower, cabbage, cake
Hana Brannigan

Working the wood oven station at République, a French restaurant in L.A., has made me very appreciative of these vegetables. The absolute best (and I mean best) way to cook these vegetables is to char them on a grill or a really hot cast iron, if you're indoors. Toss your cauliflower with chermoula, an African herb salsa, and you'll even get the kids at the block party to eat their veggies.  

6. Cherries 

Cherries are one of my favorite fruits to take on-the-go. They hold up relatively well in a Ziplock in my backpack and are incredibly easy to eat. These particular cherries are absolutely sweet and amazing without costing an arm and a leg. Pitting them and sprinkling them atop this light and fluffy cornmeal cake along with some sugar makes for the perfect summer dessert.

People underestimate how important and beneficial it is to buy local and in-season. First of all, going to the market supports the local farms. The food you eat would be coming from nearby and doesn't require exhaustive resources to get to you from the farm. This cuts cost on organic produce, and you receive produce as soon as possible. Secondly, you get the best tasting products at the height of their quality all year long. There's also a great variety between how different farmers might harvest the same type of food, and you have more control over what you choose to eat. 

The next time you have to go grocery shopping, take yourself downtown instead of Safeway. You won't be sorry you ventured for good quality produce (or the free samples).