Many times it can be hard to find healthy eating options when you’re a busy college student. Luckily, Philadelphia is home to budget- and diet-friendly farmers markets.
Some are big, some are small, but all are friendly and accessible. Farmers markets are ingenious operations: they are cheap and people love buying from them. The local markets are often family-based and run by farmers from rural Pennsylvania. Most of the produce is organic and the meats are fresh and pasture-raised. Compared to supermarkets, the prices are sensible, and the food is much fresher.
The Food Trust is a Philadelphia-based program dedicated to educating communities on healthy eating practices and bringing farmers markets into different neighborhoods in the city. According to thefoodtrust.org, their official Web site, their mission is “to ensure that everyone has access to affordable, nutritious food.”
South and Passyunk Farmers Market
South Street and Passyunk Avenue
Open mid-May through Thanksgiving
Tuesday, 2 p.m. to 7 p.m.
This is a smaller market that sells meat, poultry, organic fruits and vegetables, organic bread, eggs, dairy, plants and flowers.
Bob Pierson, who manages several markets in the city, says that the markets have made a very positive impact on the community.
“The community becomes stronger because neighbors come out who haven’t seen each other in a while and they talk about things,” Pierson says. “It increases the public dialogue.”
According to Pierson, most of the customers are regulars, and they buy whatever they can’t find at the supermarket at the farmers’ market.
Popular items at this market include melons, berries, tomatoes, corn and eggplants, but the most popular are meats and poultry. They come from pasture-grazed animals, and people who understand the difference between naturally- and unnaturally-fed animals appreciate the meats offered at the market, Pierson said. These meats have a great protein source because the animals are raised on a natural and healthy diet, and they are not confined but raised humanely.
“In a confined operation they get sick because they aren’t being fed their diet,” Pierson says. “About 90 percent of meat sold in the U.S. is from confined animals that can easily become unhealthy.”
12th Street Farmers Market
12th and St. James streets
Open June through mid-October
Tuesday, 3 p.m. – 7 p.m.
This small market sells both organic and non-organic fruits and vegetables, nuts, flowers and plants. This charming little market has become a favorite not only to local neighbors, but also Temple students.
Sophomore Raquel Archangel says she enjoys the easy commute to the market. She lives close to the Broad Street Line, and most Tuesdays after class she and her roommate venture out to buy their favorite fruit, strawberries, and other produce.
“I have a smaller meal plan this year, and this food is a lot cheaper than Pathmark’s,” Archangel says.
This market is easily accessible to all Temple students living on Main Campus since it is just a subway ride away. Students can get off at the Walnut-Locust station and walk the two blocks to the market, which offers food that is a healthier option than what they will most times find on campus.
“Their fruit is so good and always ripe,” Archangel says, “and I love the way their vegetables are always so fresh.”
Headhouse Square Farmers Market
Second and Lombard streets
Open July 1 through Thanksgiving
Saturday and Sunday
10 a.m. – 2 p.m.
This is one of the largest farmers markets in the city, with more than 25 vendors and a wide variety of products. Their products range from fruits and vegetables to fresh meats and dairies. Pre-law senior Dara Krauss says she enjoys going to the market on Sundays with her boyfriend.
“Being in the environment reminds me of home,” Krauss said.
According to The Food Trust Web site, there are more than nine farms that make the commute to the market each weekend. These farms believe firmly in chemically-free grown produce and pesticide control. The market also features vendors who sell body care products, perfumes, incense and flowers.
Something that makes the Headhouse Square Farmers Market different from other markets in the city is that it sells homemade fudge and ice cream from The Franklin Fountain on Market Street. Also unusual: the market offers game bird, such as quail, from the Griggstown Quail Farm and Market in Griggstown, N.J.
Lancaster Avenue Farmers Market
Poweltown and Lancaster avenues
Open June through October
Saturday, 10 a.m. – 2 p.m.
This charming, picturesque market consists of about five tables covered by white tents with two vendors to a table. The vendors are members of the Amish community, and every Saturday, they take the Amtrak from Lancaster, Pa., to 30th Street Station. One vendor, Jim, stays with his sister Friday night into Saturday night to sell his produce.
“It’s odd to see that so many people in the city don’t grow their own fruits and vegetables, which is second nature to me,” he says.
He makes money off something that is so commonplace to him and his community, and he says he refuses to take it for granted. That’s why he and his family make the long commute every weekend.
The market sells mostly vegetables, such as corn, green and red peppers, onions, carrots, snow peas, cabbage and lettuce. It also sells parsley, ginger and various spices.
Everything is organic and fresh. They sell flowers seasonally, especially in the fall. T.J. Barszczewski, 21, frequents the market every Saturday on his way to work and always buys corn, carrots and green peppers.
“It’s very convenient and reasonably priced,” he says, and he likes to shop because he respects their strong work ethic.
Barszczewski, like many other young people in the area, lives the life of a college student and says he appreciates the farmers market for its quality and low prices.
Melanie Menkevich can be reached at email@example.com.