Smile Politely

Market Watch: Scavenger Hunt

At the Market last week, I was reminded of participating in a one of those fun scavenger hunts from childhood. I had my list of produce to find and was “hunting” for some grass-fed, free-range chicken for dinner. Both of which I am happy to report were found. But, I also saw a lot of other things that would have been really fun to “scavenge” for. The boy band playing a Beatles cover, cake in a jar, a purple haired angel playing a ukulele, a jazzy clarinetist and guitar duo, vanilla-scented goats milk soap, and what appeared to be a drum circle of sorts complete with break dancing. That is a pretty fun scavenger hunt for a Saturday morning in Urbana! 

If you haven’t been to the Market yet this year, it’s already the seventh week and the produce is really getting good! This week, there will be asparagus, leeks, broccoli, rhubarb, peonies, lilies, cucumbers, bok choy, jams, jellies, and pumpkin bread. Also, there are a lot of non-food items available like goats milk soap, some very pretty jewelry, and custom made t-shirts, to name a few. My pup loves the peanut butter treats from the Market, so if you have a dog who likes peanut butter, you might give those a try. Also, if you are a fan of the Market’s pulled pork, you can buy it frozen and eat it later in the week. Makes a nice go-to lunch or dinner when it’s too hot to cook, as we reach higher summer temps in Central Illinois.

Did you notice earlier when I mentioned the cake in a jar? I had seen the sign for cake in a jar and macaroons earlier in the season and vowed to try them out for you, beloved Smile Politely readers. So this week I gave it a go, and I am happy to report that the cake in a jar is pretty darn great! The chocolate one included a fudgy-like bottom layer, a marshmallow-y soft layer, and, of course, the cake. There are several formulations to choose from, so if chocolate isn’t your bag, you could choose from one of the other flavors. The packaging is also quite pretty, so these could make a nice gift. I’ll try out the macaroons in a future post and report back about those too. 

As a reminder, the market is phasing out the Marketscratch debit/credit system from last year, so if you still have tokens you will want to cash those in soon. However, this change doesn’t apply to LINK users. LINK tokens will remain the same. And as I reported last week, due to a grant from Illinois LINK-UP, the Market will double the value of LINK purchases up to $20. Definitely a great value that LINK users will want to take advantage of.

In case you are planning ahead, some great Market events are coming up in the next few weeks. On June 22, Art at the Market will be hosting a workshop that will teach participants how to turn a t-shirt into a reusable shopping bag. For more information about Art at the Market, click here. Then, on June 29, the Eastern Illinois Foodbank will host a special Farm to Foodbank event. This event will allow Market patrons to donate much-needed fresh produce to the Foodbank. For more information about this special event, see here

Forms of payment: All vendors accept cash, and a few may take checks. I have seen a few vendors with card readers on their smart phones, but these seem few and far between. See information about LINK tokens here. If you run out of cash at the Market, there is an ATM in the Lincoln Square Mall.

Parking: Free parking is available in the parking lots surrounding Lincoln Square Mall and the lot south of Illinois Street. Bike parking is also available at the entrances to the mall and at the bike corral area past the entrance to the Market off of Illinois. I arrived a lot later to the Market than usual this week and was happy to see that there was still plenty of parking, so don’t let the fear of limited parking places keep you away.

Information: You can follow the Market on Facebook and Twitter. Sign up for Market mail here. There is a map of the vendors here. If you want more information, you can email Market Director Natalie Kenny Marquez or call her at (217) 384-2319. And check out the Market flickr for some excellent shots of the market in full swing. 

The Market runs from 7:00 a.m. to noon every Saturday through November 2. All events are scheduled rain or shine. There was no rain last week, even though it was overcast, and I’m hoping the rain will hold off this weekend too. C-U at the Market!

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