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Market Watch: Summer arrives with the blues

Three weeks ago, we wrote about the Market hitting the peak of spring produce. The changes in the weather have brought about changes in the fields, and you won’t be seeing much (if any) spring produce in the Market’s rows this weekend. Nope, we’re sailing headlong into summer produce season now — you’ve seen the last of strawberries, but say hello to peaches, raspberries/blueberries/blackberries, summer squashes, onions, and plenty, plenty more.

Here are a few tips for navigating those early summer markets:

We can’t stress it enough, but try making the Market a part of your grocery shopping routine. We’re starting to experience summer’s bounty (just wait ‘til the tomatoes and corn start coming on for real in the next few weeks!), so you can get the majority of your produce shopping done at the Market on Saturdays. The Market has many of your other needs as well: breads and desserts, meat/cheese/eggs for those who consume animal products, hand-cut pastas… the list is endless.

Try something new. It doesn’t even have to be something you’ve never eaten before. It could just be a different variety of something you’ve eaten before. Like peaches? Try the white flesh or “donut” varieties. Wondering just what the heck to make with leeks? There are a lot of recipes for vichyssoise (cold potato/leek soup) out there. As the season progresses, you’ll start seeing many different varieties of tomatoes, peppers, potatoes and other vegetables — give them all a chance!

Efficiencies. Market shopping during the summer season requires different maneuvers. Bringing a small bag or pack for cash and checkbook is easier than rummaging around in a large bag or your pockets. Bringing a basket or some reusable shopping bags will help keep your stuff together (or a so-called granny cart, if you’re like most folks and end up buying more than you planned). If you’re really serious, you can bring a cooler to keep your meat, eggs, and cheeses cool while you chat with your friends at the Market, something else people do way more of than they plan to.

Ride your bike! If you live within biking distance of the Market, consider riding your bike. While car parking is plentiful, it can get kind of crowded and besides, they have all that new bike parking just waiting for your bike to hitch up. You can get a rack and a couple baskets attached to your bike for a song, and then you’ll be able to haul your haul.

This week’s produce: arugula, asparagus (the last!), basil, beets, broccoli, cabbage, cilantro, cucumbers, field greens, garlic scapes, green beans, green onion, kale, kohlrabi, leaf lettuce, leeks parsley, peaches, potatoes, radishes, spinach, sugar snap and other peas, summer squash, swiss chard, tomatoes, turnips, zucchini

Don’t forget – this weekend, Urbana’s hosting the second annual Blues, Brews, and BBQ Festival. It’s free to get in, it starts Friday night, and gets underway Saturday at 11 a.m. Come to the Market before heading downtown!

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