One of the most frustrating parts of trying to eat healthy on a college campus is finding fresh produce. I’d rather give up and indulge in Insomnia Cookies’ deliciousness than search the entire campus for a piece of fruit that actually appears appetizing.
While produce on Main Campus can be found, the pickings are slim. You can try and find a ripe piece of fruit at Johnson & Hardwick cafeteria, but don’t push your luck. Or, perhaps, you prefer shopping for produce at 7-Eleven. I’m not judging.
Fortunately, there are other options on or close to Main Campus. Farmers markets are one of my favorite places to go to when I need produce. Markets offer a variety of fruits and vegetables that are fresh and in season. They also help farmers and contribute to the local economy.
You won’t need to take the subway or walk very far to stop by the farmers market located on Cecil B. Moore Avenue between North Broad and 13th streets. The market, hosted by The Food Trust and the Office of Community Relations, is open every Thursday now through mid-November from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m.
I first visited the market on Sept. 6. I had my doubts before visiting. A farmers market on campus and so close to Broad Street didn’t seem appealing. But I was mistaken. As I approached the market, I immediately became pleased. The market had an assortment of produce as well as baked goods, flowers and jams all lined up in a row of tables under a tent. It reminded me of something you’d see in suburb of Philadelphia, not Philly itself. I decided to purchase a few tomatoes, which ended up being delicious. The sellers were friendly and helpful, offering advice on how to keep my tomatoes fresh and the best way to prepare them. They even had brochures on how to prepare produce and how to eat healthy in the city. The market has a lot to offer and is a great alternative for finding healthy produce on campus.
Another great market not too far from Temple is the urban farm at Eighth Street and Poplar Avenue. The urban farm consists of a garden, open Tuesdays, March through December, from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., and farm stand where produce is sold every Wednesday, May through November, from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. The urban farm is hosted by a program called Teens4Good, a program that turns vacant lots into green spaces with the help of young adults. Not only does Teens4Good bring fresh produce to the local community, it also allows young adults to learn farming, gardening and entrepreneurship skills.
The garden, which opened in 2005, is lined with mosaic stepping stones and is filled with pretty flowers. While the urban garden is not as accessible as the market on campus, it is only a few minutes away by car. Thanks to my roommate, we drove to the urban farm on Sept. 6, after realizing I was insane for thinking we could walk.
When we first pulled up, we were both impressed by the garden. Signs outside offered welcoming messages and specifics of what was being sold that day. I purchased fresh basil for only $1 and the worker informed us that they sell different things on different days. She also gave advice on how to prepare our basil and answered our questions to what some of the herbs were. The farm stand also had a large variety of peppers, tomatoes and herbs. If you can make a trip, you’ll be able to purchase affordable produce and help out a great program.
Other notable farmers markets are a bit farther from campus, but the subway can get you there in a short period of time. For instance, if you take the subway to Center City you can visit Rittenhouse Farmers Market located on 18th and Walnut streets. The market is open Tuesdays from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. and Saturdays year-round from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. I took the subway to the market on Sept. 8. This farmers market offered than the others like fruits, vegetables, baked goods, eggs and meats. Both the market and the city were lively, only enhancing my experience. I plan on revisiting when the fall weather hits and picking up a few different things.
If you are downtown, I recommend visiting Reading Terminal Market. Reading Terminal has a few farm stands that offer fresh produce, as well as organic and locally grown food seven days a week. You can get many healthy options at Reading Terminal. It has become a tradition that my roommates and I head to Reading Terminal for fresh food on Sundays.
When I visited on Sept. 9, I made a point to check out the stands offering produce. There are so many options at Reading Terminal. My roommates and I purchased broccoli, lettuce, tomatoes and carrots from a few stands. There are so many options at the market, which makes it a fun experience. Even if you leave empty-handed, Reading Terminal is a place everyone should experience at least once.
Remember, these are just a few of the farmers markets and farm stands close to campus. Depending on where you live or where you are willing to visit, you can find more markets online. Many websites offer a list of markets, where they are located and when they run. Just try searching farmers markets in Philadelphia to get a long list of options.
While the weather is still warm, try stopping by one of the many farmers markets. If you have never been to a farmers market before or miss the one you frequented back home.
Find your new favorite market in Philly. Not only will you be eating healthy and purchasing great produce, you will be making an impact on the larger community as well.
Brianna McGrody can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.