Union Square Market: Where Local Meets Amazing

One often hears about local food and it’s importance to the economy. But what exactly is it? And can college students actually afford it? To try and answer these questions, I make a trip to NY City’s flagship farmers’ market – the Union Square Greenmarket!

Run by Grow NYC – an NGO that manages and coordinates the local and organic food supply in New York City – the Union Square Greenmarket boasts about 60,000 visitors PER day and 140 farmers’ stands. But what is most impressive to me is always the colour and the innovation of the food found here. With a camera in tow, I hunt for prices and fascinating edibles.

First stop, Deep Mountain Maple.

Run by the Cantors family, Deep Mountain produces all things maple – everything from maple syrup, candies and creams! Each 8 fluid ounce of Vermont Maple is sold for $9, which though justified by its sustainable, local and organic practices; the price is still steep for students. As a compromise, buy their 64 fl. oz. bottle for $34 – split the price with friends! More maple for less money.

They also produce 4 kinds of maple candy: Ginger, Hot and Spicy (gives a nice kick), Regular and Coconut. The candies go for $5/lb.

Next, Eve’s Cidery.

From Van Etten in upstate New York, the Cidery carries different blends of apple cider and sweet dessert wines. Their philosophy is sustainable production, and it shows in their treatment of the drinks and explanations of the production process. Two of their best sellers are the Rustico, a dry blend of apple cider with an apple juice finish and the Northern Spy, a smoother single-variety cider. But my favourite was the Essence, an apple wine, made of the frozen late-harvest apples. It’s not quite as sharp as the appetizer wines (aperitifs) of France, so think something along the lines of alcoholic syrup. Each one-litre bottle of the cider goes for $14. Split with your friends and you’re buying an excellent bottle of cider for slightly more than the price of a cheap wine*.

*Note: A good alternative for those who are not yet of age – Non-alcoholic apple cider for $5 per half galleon or $9 per galleon at more than 10 farm stands at the Greenmarket!

Lastly, my favourite, Eckerton Hill Farm for over 30 varieties of chilli peppers!

You can get any combination of chilli peppers for $4/box, and their most expensive produce was $6/lb for smoke dried jalapeños.

The prices at the market range are not exorbitant, but neither are they dirt-cheap. Also, not everything is available (i.e. oranges or cabbage) as all produce is seasonal. Here are some of the median (most common) prices of most common items at the market:

Item Price ($/lb) Item Price ($/lb)
Sweet Potatoes 2 Lettuce (mix n’ match) 10
Apples 2 Chard 3.50/bunch
Baby Carrots 4 Eggplants 4.50
Quiche 7/pie (5 inches) Onion 1
Potatoes 1 Parsnip 1/bunch
Beets 3.50/bunch Cauliflower 2 each (large)
Pumpkins 3 each Brussel Sprouts 4/bunch (3 lbs)

So take the Met Van and head over to Union Square! You will not regret it. The Union Square Market is open Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday from 8am – 6pm. Take the 4, 5, 6 train to Union Square and follow the white tents and smell of roasting vegetables.

And the best sign for the carnivore in me:

Photo Credit: Jeamme Chia and Google Images

Jing Min Chia – who goes by Jeamme, which is pronounced Jamie, a name her mother created – is a Malaysian who loves to eat, cook, write about food and ponder about everything related to food. She reads the BBC, Nature and The Economist like its no tomorrow because she believes it is theoretically possible – and important – to understand how the world actually works. At Sarah Lawrence College she studies Economics, Anthropology, French, Agriculture, Development, plus a medley of sciences and tries to convince her mother that the combination is a good idea.

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