Smile Politely

Market Watch: June 27th, 2014

I stopped by the market pretty late last week and was surprised to see a lot of produce still available. One of the great things about the market as the summer progresses is that there are many more produce choices and a larger quantity to choose from, so if you want to sleep in you won’t miss all the good stuff! I was able to check out a few of the newer vendors including a gluten-free baked good stand, a winery from southern Illinois, and a new “food truck” offering all kinds of soda. One of the things about the market that I really enjoy is that new vendors pop up over the course of the season, so there is always something new to check out.  There were a few craft vendors offering new items as well, so if you don’t always head down the last couple of the aisles of the market, you might want to this week to see what is new. The meat vendors seemed to be doing a brisk business last week as well. Some of the vendors were offering specials on grilling favorites like hamburgers and brats, so if you are stocking up for your Fourth of July celebrations check out the specials from the meat vendors; just don’t forget to pack a cooler to take your frozen items home.

Last week also featured a fun Sprouts at the Market program, and in the coming weeks there will be more special Sprouts events. To learn more about Sprouts visit their website. Additionally, a program to promote arts at the market, Art at the Market, will return in on July 12th with a t-shirt/tote bag workshop and a jazz quartet. But even when there are no “special” events at the market there is plenty to do and see, including live music performances and special exhibitions from local community groups. The market is even debuting an alliance with local businesses through the Illinois Stewardship Alliance to expand the offerings of local food at area restaurants. This initiative is called Local Flavors and will start July 1 at Pizza M in Urbana. To learn more about the Local Flavors program visit their website.

The produce at the market is in abundance, so really there are so many items to choose from. Tomatoes are starting to be available, as well as locally grown and harvested peaches. Zucchini is starting to make an appearance, too. I can’t wait to start making zucchini bread, as well as zucchini pasta and stir-fry. For such a humble little vegetable, zucchini offers some big and healthy taste options. There will also be greens, beets, lots of peas, garlic scapes, spinach, radishes, and cucumbers, as well as many different herbs. The possibilities are endless as the season continues.  Central Illinois offers such a variety of choices as the growing climate is just right for so many things this time of year. If you purchased some vegetable plants at the beginning of the season from the market to plant your own garden, hopefully they are in full bloom and producing!

Forms of payment: All vendors accept cash, and a few may take checks. There is an ATM in the Lincoln Square Mall just in case you buy so much you need a few more bucks. LINK card tokens are still available. Information about LINK is available here.

Parking: Parking is available in the parking lots surrounding Lincoln Square Mall and the lot south of Illinois Street for FREE! 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. 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. Check out flickr for some great photos from the market each week. The market also has Instagram—you can follow the feed here.

Pets: The market doesn’t allow pets, so leave your furry friends at home, but there are plenty of places to pick up a special treat for your pet at the market so they don’t feel left out.

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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