Smile Politely

Market Watch: July 17, 2010

Three months in, and the Market is bonkers. If you made it to the Market last week, you could tell just how bonkers by the number of cars in the parking lot, the number of bikes locked up to the Market’s bike parking (just to the west of the Market site, if you’ve missed it in the past), and the number of people within. MW will take this opportunity to remind you that getting there early is a good idea – not only are you best able to avail yourself of anything in limited supply at the Market, parking is easier and the crowd is smaller. Just some advice from a seasoned shopper.

A word about the weather — MW keeps repeating itself, but it’s worth noting that timelyish rain + heat = crazy amounts of produce. Seriously, a bounty of this caliber has not been seen in ages. Last week, among other things, MW noticed things like okra and garlic and fresh onions and donut peaches and patty pan squash, which is the cutest squash in the known universe. It also grills up nicely. You can do it too:

6 pattypan squash, cut in half horizontally
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 garlic cloves, minced
½ teaspoon kosher salt
Coarsely ground black pepper

1. Prepare grill.
2. Toss squash with olive oil, garlic, salt and pepper. Place on grill rack. Cook until browned, about 6 minutes on each side. Serves 4.

Recipe is from a Relish, which is a great resource for tasty, simple fare.

Here’s a little list of what you’ll be able to find this week: broccoli, beets, green beans, radishes, mixed greens, rainbow chard, kale, okra, green onions, cabbage, fresh herbs, tomatoes, cucumbers, summer squash, turnips, peaches, nectarines, apricots, early apples, eggplant, kohlrabi, raspberries, blueberries, gooseberries, currants, sweet corn, potatoes, garlic, fresh whole onions, and who knows what else. Maybe the melons will show up this week – who knows?

If you dig plants, flowers, art, crafts, performance, and the best people watching in town, the Market is a good way to spend your Saturday morning. This weekend you’ll also have the chance to give the Urbana Park District some input about their plans for a new pool at Crystal Lake. Their booth will be right next to the City of Urbana’s tent at the northwest entrance to the Market, and they will love hearing from you. After you’re done at the Market, it’ll be way too nice out to go home – you can check out the Second Saturday event happening in downtown Urbana, courtesy the Urbana Business Association. Best bring some freezer bags to keep that produce cool.

Once again: The Market’s merchandise for the season is finally available – there’s this great “I Heart MY farmers market” design on the front of the t-shirts (the heart is actually the Market’s rooster logo); on the back is a groovy bike/tractor design. Nine bucks, people! The very durable and sturdy and BIG tote bags made from recycled cotton – those have the “I Heart MY farmers market” design, too – are BACK IN STOCK for the low, low price of $8 apiece. Seriously, this is an awesome deal, especially because, if MW is doing the math correctly, one can get a shirt and bag for under $20. MW hears the City is accepting cash and checks only for these items, not their own Market money, which is kind of funny. MW also hears the City is considering shipping these items outside the area for former residents who desperately miss Urbana’s Market. Email Lisa, the Market’s Director, if you’re an out-of-towner who needs some Market merch.

This weekend, you can learn a lot about local growers and their farms at the City’s “Eat Here” display at the NW corner of the Market – photos, information about the benefits of supporting local farmers, and more information about the Market will all be in evidence. Check it out! Eat Here!

Additionally, the City of Urbana was recently designated a Bicycle Friendly Community by the League of American Bicyclists. To celebrate, C-U’s Safe Routes to School Project has organized another one of their Bike Rodeos – kids can get fitted for helmets, try their hand (or… bikes?) on an obstacle course, and learn more about bike safety at the Market this weekend. The event will be held for 9-noon on Walnut Street, which is the street that’s blocked off just west of the Market. Not only that, a press conference regarding this new designation will be held on Walnut Street at 10 AM. MW likes the bikes and will DEFINITELY be there.

Next week – the season’s third Sprouts at the Market event! MW has heard it’ll be a major tasting activity for the youngsters ages 3-8. More info next week.

Have a great weekend… eat well!


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