Smile Politely

Market Watch: Pumpkin Style

This week at the Market, it’s all about pumpkins! The unassuming, orange fruit will be front and center for all the Market happenings this week. Did you know that a pumpkin is a fruit? Pumpkins are a member of the cucurbitaceae berry family, just like melons, cucumbers, and squash.  

But whatever you call it, pumpkins are a tasty notification that fall is right around the corner. I can’t wait for a bit of chill in the air to enjoy a pumpkin latte and some pumpkin cookies, and maybe some pumpkin pie – and definitely some pumpkin cobbler. Could anything be better? Pumpkin is a very versatile food; it goes well in just about anything because the taste we normally associate with pumpkin actually comes from spices like cinnamon, clove and nutmeg. On its own, pumpkin has a very mild flavor and it is great for smoothies, purees, and all sorts of other ways to add to your fruit and vegetable intake for the day.

This week at the Market, kids can learn all about pumpkins, squash and gourds from the Sprouts at the Market program called, “From Dirt to Dessert…and Beyond!”  Kids participating in the program will learn about how pumpkins and other squash grow from the rich Illinois soil to become tasty treats. There will even be some pumpkin cookies for Sprouts participants to sample. The Sprouts program is partnering with The Great Pumpkin Patch from Arthur, IL for this fun event. Participants will also have the chance to win small prizes by completing all the stations at the Market. Learn more about this great event here.

As a reminder, the last blood drive of the Market season is this weekend. If you can donate, please visit the Bloodmobile on Walnut Street between 8 a.m. and noon to help ensure there is enough local blood supply available for those who need it.  More information about this event can be found at the Community Blood Center’s website.

This week at the Market, there will be a cornucopia of fruits and veggies available.  Pumpkins, kale, swiss chard, eggplants, and onions are all in full season as well as lots of fruits, jams, free-range meats, eggs, cheeses and honey. We are getting close the end of Market season, so you may want to think ahead toward purchasing a little extra these next few weeks to freeze for the winter season. Nothing beats a freezer full of free-range chicken for when winter cold season sets in and all you wants is chicken noodle soup.

The other thing I am excited about at the Market this week is the appearance of more Fall and Winter handmade items like scarves, mittens, cute pet sweaters, and long skirts. Last year I bought the cutest pair of hand-knitted fold over mittens at the Market and I wore the heck out of them, until the left mitten mysteriously disappeared. I’ll definitely be on the lookout for a new pair this year. Autumn scented soap and candles have also arrived at the Market. Maybe a pumpkin scented candle to round out all the pumpkin this week?

Forms of payment: All vendors accept cash, and a few may take checks. Some
vendors have card readers on their smart phones, but I haven’t seen too many of
those. See information about LINK tokens here. As a reminder the LINK UP grant
that provided matching up to $20 for LINK patrons has run out. Check here for more
information. 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.

Information: There are lots of places to get more information about the Market. You can follow the Market on Facebook and twitter. Sign up for Market mail here. There is a map of the vendors here.  Check the map to see if your favorite vendors will be at the Market this weekend. And check out the Market flickr for some excellent photos of the Market. I bet there might even be some pumpkin photos.

If you want more information you can email Market Director Natalie Kenny Marquez
or call her at 217.384.2319.

The Market runs from 7 a.m. to noon every Saturday through November 2. All events are scheduled rain or shine. C-U at the Market!

Pumpkins and Sprouts images from the Market Facebook page. 

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