Smile Politely

Market Watch: Sprouts and Bees

This weekend marks the final Sprouts at the Market for the year. Kids who attend will learn all about composting. This event is hosted by Common Ground Food Co-op.  Composting is really a great way to keep food scraps and other biodegradable items out of the landfill.  Did you know that human hair and fingernail clippings can be composted?  Yup! Plus what kid doesn’t love learning all about worms and dirt! This event is from 9-11:30 a.m. and is free. For more information about this fun event for 3-8 year olds, click here.

So, the weather here in C-U has been a bit unseasonal lately. It’s a little like Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, but instead of being pelted with giant food it’s 90 degrees in October, sporadically downpouring through sunshine and 115% humidity. The great news about the abysmal weather is that sunflowers are still thriving and available at the market. So, if you are looking for that last little bit of sunny yellow for the season, look no further than the market. So, grab a bunch while you are at the market this weekend and try to ignore the fact that it’s August weather.

Since it is actually October though, apples, pumpkins, greens, and an abundance of autumn produce are contiuning to crop up. This week be on the lookout for lots of different varieties of apples. I saw several different kinds last week, including some great baking varieties. If you aren’t sure what kinds of apples are good for what kinds of things, be sure to ask at the counter what the farmer recommends for their apples. And perhaps next week when the temps reach the mere 70s it’ll feel like time to fire up some pie recipes. This week there will also be lots of squash, zucchini, peppers, greens, and lettuce. I got some really delicious kale last week and I’ll be on the lookout for more this week, so you might want to get to the market early before I buy it all up.

Also, there are lots of options for homemade jams, jellies, and apple butter to spread on freshly made bread. Pekara is one of my perennial favorites for baguette, but there really are so many choices for great bread at the market. Additionally, there are cheese, eggs, free-range chickens, grass-fed beef, goat milk gelato, and many other tasty things to try before the season ends. I noticed a few of the meat vendors were taking larger orders for the winter in case you want to stock up.

Finally, I wanted to put a little plug in for the bees, the humble bumble as it were.  The bee population around the country is steadily declining and that is bad for both humans and bees alike. Bees do a lot of the work to make sure our food grows—especially delicious things like blueberries, almonds, and strawberries, just to name a few. Bees are a very important part of our ecosystem. If you buy honey or other bee related products, please consider buying from local beekeepers at the market or the Co-op; this helps to support local populations of bees and keep bee colonies alive and thriving in our communities.

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. 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:  You can follow the market on Facebook and twitter. Sign up for market mail here.  If you want more information you can email Market Director Natalie Kenny Marquez  or call her at 217.384.2319. And check out their flickr for some gorgeous photos of the market.  

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!

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