Photos by Ana Gambuto
Edited by Chelsea Leeds
COME SUMMER, THERE IS NOTHING I LOVE MORE THAN HITTING THE FARMER’S MARKET. THE MOTHER OF ALL MARKETS? UNION SQUARE. When shopping local, there’s no better place to start than at the Union Square Greenmarket. They have super strict “grow-your-own” standards to ensure that every veg, baked good and more is locally sourced, grown, baked, or made. Farmers comes from all parts of New Jersey, Pennsylvania, New York and New England to share their bounty with enthusiastic New Yorkers whose support feed the farmers’ passion and business. With over 50 vendors, the market can be a bit overwhelming at first, but with some proper planning, navigating the market can be a breeze. Here are some tips and tricks (needed when shopping with kiddos!) that I’ve picked up over the years and many market visits to make the experience all the more fun.
Union Square Park
E 17th St &, Union Square W, New York, NY 10003
8am-6pm Monday, Wednesday, Friday, Saturday
*Note that some farmers pack up early when they run out of product or just feel like heading home, so shop early in the day to ensure your fave vendors are there
BEFORE YOU GO
– Wear comfy shoes
– Bags within bags
– Pre-pack produce bags, over estimate how much you need!
– Hit the ATM (Usually $100 should be plenty! Raw cheeses tend to be more expensive)
– Go early for dairy and seafood stands (especially on hot days), these stands will pack up by noon.
– Go late for price drops on baked goods and produce
– Don’t be afraid to ask questions! Farmers are happy to oblige when you’re unsure how to prepare something or have never seen a particular varietal. Ask the farmer how he/she might prep something him or herself. They have the best ideas!
– Ask if they spray and if so, what do they use. They might even give you advice on how to best clean the produce.
– Try the samples! Only way to know what you like 🙂
– Use your stroller as your rolling cart. Best mom hack of all 😉
MAP OUT YOUR TERRITORY
– Start @ Bread Alone for sourdough! These loaves go fast so this is always my first stop.
– Next, hit the produce! Hit your heaviest items, zucchini, onions, potatoes at the bottom, then move to lighter items (IE: leafy greens and mushrooms, sprouts etc)
– Followed by specialty items like raw goat cheese (for a pre-dinner plate of course) and seafood (if something needs to be refrigerated, I get these towards the end of my crawl and rush home after)
– Last stop: berries! I tend to leave the most fragile items last so you don’t end up with smushed berries (AKA stained everything).
*This haul should last you about up to 3-5 days depending on how much you’re cooking/juicing. I don’t love doing a huge haul since things can go bad and sometimes when your fridge is too packed you don’t know what you have! Better to start small and work up.
FAVE JULY/AUGUST PRODUCE
– Shishito peppers- sautéed in olive oil and salt
– Calypso beans
– Zucchini, for grilling
– White peaches
– Sugar snap peas
– Collard greens
– Green onions
KEEPING KIDS BUSY
The best artillery to keep those kiddos busy? Snacks. Lots of them. Jude loves vegan muffins and pretzels. When those run out? Hit the Union Square playground to blow off some steam and return to your haul.
– Salt-free sourdough pretzels
– Spelt carrot muffins
– Playground situated smack in the center of the park
– What you can’t expect to find: avocados, lemons, limes, anything tropical, coconut. Best to hit the health food store for these!
– Many farmstands will accept credit card once you hit $15 or more
– Norwich Meadow Farm
– Alewife Farm, Kingston
– Hawthorne Valley
– Solid Ground Farm
– Bread Alone
– She Wolf Bakery
– Snow leopard melons! Like a sweeter honeydew, if you can believe it.
– Shiso leaves- add to homemade nori wraps and sushi!
– Fire maple syrup (not gas fueled) Most commercial syrups use natural gas to fuel production because it’s both easy and convenient. At the market you can find farmers who take the time to build and maintain a wood fire that carries them through production.
– Homemade pies- most are naturally vegan! Make sure to ask your farmer about the ingredients.