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I’ve heard good things about the North Village Arts District Farmers & Artisans Market behind the Wabash Station downtown, so I decided to wander the booths and see for myself. The market is open on Sundays from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Here are a few lessons I picked up on in between checking things off my grocery list:
1. Take a lap. As a newcomer to the market, I decided to walk around before committing to buy anything. It was a good plan — until I saw a booth that had only one cantaloupe, which is my usual breakfast with a scoop of cottage cheese. I was so worried the only cantaloupe in the entire market would be snatched up before I made my way back around that I bought it. Then, three booths down I found plenty more (and larger) for the same price. So don’t just take a lap, take a thorough one.
2. If you want a popsicle, get it early. Fresh Beets popsicles is fairly new to CoMo (read about it in Vox), so their frozen treats sold out quick. Most of the flavors on the chalkboard had been scratched out when I got there, which left me with two choices. I went with watermelon basil, and I have no regrets about the delicious decision, but if you want options, you better hurry.
3. Chat with the sellers. Everyone I met was friendly and helpful. When I didn’t know that a tiny purple orb was a tomato, they let me try one free of charge. (Purple tomatoes, who knew?) And when I bought a loaf of Italian herb flat bread, the man behind the table told me how he likes to prepare it: add a few sliced tomatoes and pop it in the oven for a few minutes. I took his advice but sprinkled on a bit of feta cheese for good measure, and I ate every bite.
4. Weigh out the prices. This is the question most people kept asking me when I mentioned I did my grocery shopping outside of the grocery store. Was it cheaper? Sometimes yes; sometimes no. It depends on the item and also on how much you value fresh and organic produce. In most cases it was a bit more than the produce you’d find at a grocery store, but not by much. And it was far less than the organic section at the grocery store. I, personally, also like the idea of supporting local farmers.
5. It’s an event. The market is far more than a market, so bring the family or a group of friends and enjoy the afternoon. There is usually live music and crafts for kids to make or chalk for them to draw with. To appreciate the market you have to meander and hang around. It’s not an in-and-out-onto-the-next-errand kind of atmosphere.
Anyone else have any helpful tips to share? I’ve only been once, but I know I’ll be back again soon.
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