Smile Politely

Market Watch: August 16th, 2014

Last week the market celebrated National Farmers Market Week with a bunch of different events. By the time I arrived around 8 a.m., the aisles were full of shoppers, and there were lines at all of the food trucks. Kids were huddled around the Art at the Market station, using okra and corn to make cool stamp designs on some paper.

While there may not be a visit from the mayor this weekend, the market will still have plenty of things to do, sample, eat, and take home. For kids between ages three and eight, Sprouts at the Market will have a free event from 9:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. Sponsored by the Champaign-Urbana Public Health District, “Let’s Make My Plate Local” will teach kids about USDA My Plate standards, and how to fill their own plates with locally grown produce. Participants will be able to sample some foods, too. There will be three stations, and kids who complete activities at all three stations will receive a certificate of completion.

If you’re hunting for your weekly supply of produce, you’ll have plenty of options. This week you can expect to find corn, of course, and also tomatillos, onions, garlic, beets, green beans, zucchini, cucumbers, and tomatoes. If you have some time, I suggest picking up some tomatillos and roasting them for a lovely salsa verde. You can also pick up some green onions, tomatoes, and some hot peppers to make a nice pico de gallo. With a steak or some chicken from the local meat vendors, you’re most of the way toward dinner. There will also be plenty of peaches, berries, some apples, and maybe a few melons. Try grilling your peaches and your melon. Top off with some Prairie Fruits Farm gelato, and you’ve got a lovely grilled summer dinner ready for your family.

Speaking of gelato, I’m a sucker for any frozen dessert the folks at Prairie Fruits Farm put together, and last weekend I picked up a container of Thai Basil gelato. I also bought an enormous bag of peach seconds and make a peach cobbler. The basil gelato added a sophisticated and unexpected burst of flavor to the dessert.
In addition to produce and meat, you’ll also find a large variety of premade foods, including toffee, cakes, breads, honey, dog treats, popcorn, granola, jams, and candied nuts. There is no shame in saving yourself some time by purchasing someone else’s cinnamon buns.

Don’t forget about the home goods and flowers available to gussy up your living space. I picked up some flowers last weekend, and they’re still bright and beautiful in my living room.

Forms of payment: All vendors accept cash, and a few may take checks. There is an ATM in the Lincoln Square Mall. LINK tokens are still available.

Parking: Free parking is available in the parking lots surrounding Lincoln Square Mall and in 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.

Information: The market provides a lot of ways to get information. You can follow the market on Facebook and Twitter, or sign up for market mail. Check out the map of the vendors, or search for produce. If you want more information you can email Market Director Natalie Kenny Marquez, or call her at 217-384-2319. Check out Flickr and Instagram for some great photos from the market each week.

Pets: The market doesn’t allow pets, so leave your furry friends at home.

The market runs from 7 a.m. to noon every Saturday through November 1st. All events are scheduled rain or shine.

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