Flickr- NatalieMaynor

If you haven’t yet, it’s time to think about hitting up the local Farmers Markets, but there are a few things you need to know before you go.

Peas: buy frozen, not fresh. Fresh spring peas have a very short season, so unless you can get peas plucked right off the vine, they will disappoint.

Carrots: the orange nubs that come in plastic bags aren't babies at all. They're full-size carrots cut down with a machine. Real baby carrots are picked when small; there are also specific varieties bred to grow no bigger than three inches or so.

Leeks: on their own, leeks are a delicious side. As an ensemble player, they're a great alternative to onions in a stew, sauté, or risotto. Leeks need careful cleaning, too. Rinse them under running water until all the grit is gone.

Rhubarb: when shopping for rhubarb, try to find the field-grown stuff. Hothouse-grown rhubarb won't be as vibrant-looking as field-grown. At the market, choose red, glossy stalks that feel firm. Medium-thick stalks of rhubarb have the best chance of being tender, not fibrous.

Asparagus: thick spears (3/4 inch or so) have better texture and flavor. To prep asparagus, skip the wasteful bend-and-snap method. Just cut off the bottom inch or so, then peel the bottom portion with a vegetable peeler.

Strawberries: to choose the best strawberries, use your nose. Pick up the container and inhale. Buy organic if you can. Nonorganic berries are often loaded with pesticides.