Smile Politely

Market Watch: May 31st, 2014

Last week the market saw some new vendors move into their spots, lots of strawberries for sale, and an anti-GMO protest march. It was so nice to see so many of the vendors with fuller stalls and more produce to offer. The weather in Central Illinois is finally starting to cooperate a bit more, although maybe not so much for this weekend. It’s predicted to be cloudy, and perhaps rain a bit. The market runs rain or shine, though, so don’t let a few clouds keep you away.

At last week’s market, the group March Against Monsanto organized a protest march that was held in 420 cities across six continents, including Urbana. The march began at Strawberry Fields and was open to anyone who wanted to participate.   When I arrived I saw a pretty big group with signs walking the perimeter of the market. The march last week was advocating local, sustainable agriculture around the world. If you would like to learn more about this group, visit their website.

This week will mark the end of Bike to the Market month. There will be valet bike parking along Walnut Street and a chance to learn more about biking in C-U. But just because Bike to the Market month is ending, that doesn’t mean that you can’t keep biking to the market. Learn more about this event and other biking events in town here. Next week there will be a blood drive at the market; learn more about how you can help others in the community here.

This week there should be more strawberries at the market, if you are looking for something sweet. It is also rhubarb season, so there should also be a nice variety of rhubarb to choose from. Last week I purchased a few pints of strawberries and some tasty rhubarb and made a delicious strawberry rhubarb pie. The strawberries at the market really do taste so much better than the strawberries from your local mega-mart because they are picked ripe and get to you right away. The strawberries do go fast, so get there early if you want some. There has also been some really lovely asparagus the last couple of weeks,  which can be a main ingredient in all your summer salads, quiches, or even served steamed. I also was really happy with some of the lettuce mix I bought from the market last week. Fresh cut lettuce is really excellent and there are many, many varieties to choose from. There are also hydroponic tomatoes and a lot of other delicious items to add to your summer menu. 

One new (to me) item I did get the chance to try last week was from the candy vendor, C.K. Roasted Almonds. They sell a gummy bear item called “juicy bears,” which are gluten free and actually pretty good. I’m not a huge gummy fan, but if you are on the lookout for a gluten free gummy item from the market, this could be the thing for you. The vendor usually gives out samples, so stop by the tent and perhaps you can try one before you buy.

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.  See information about LINK 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 is also on instagram.

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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