Always wanted to be a greenmarket shopper, but not sure where to start? Dive right in with our do’s and don’ts for shopping our favorite Manhattan greenmarket, right in the heart of Union Square.
Organic. Local. Seasonal. We hear these buzzwords every day, showing up on our Instagram feed, popping into our inboxes, and bolded atop restaurant menus. But we’ve learned that the best way to go “locavore” is to do the shopping yourself, and there’s no better place to do this than your neighborhood greenmarket.
Our favorite just so happens to be the Union Square Greenmarket, which has been around since the 1970s, serving the freshest goods to the residents and chefs of NYC. Heading to this spacious outdoor market can be intimidating at best, downright confusing at worst, so we put together some of our top hacks for making the most of your greenmarket experience.
Because you’re going the extra mile to shop organic and local, why not keep that party going by bringing your own reusable bag?
DO take a moment to take it all in – So often we race through our grocery shopping, list pulled up on our phone, headphones in place. Try taking your greenmarket trip as a form of walking meditation. Be present in your moment. Take in the environment around you. Notice the incredible smells. The crazy colors of the fruit and veggies. It’s a great way to make the most of your shopping experience.
DO bring your own sustainable shopping bag – Because you’re going the extra mile to shop organic and local, why not keep that party going by bringing your own reusable bag? We are loving these bags from Junes right now.
DO come with a game plan – We like to have an idea of how much food we need for the week, what we already have at home, when we’ll be out to dinner, and so on. This way, you won’t find yourself at your apartment with 10lbs of radishes and a week full of dinners out, just because they looked good.
DO take a lap first – There may be more than one vendor that sells your favorite edible flowers, and if you stake out the options and get a good idea of what is where, you can shop most efficiently. Plus, see DO #1 for another reason why taking a lap is one of our favorite parts of the experience 🙂
DO bring cash – Many vendors don’t take credit cards, and this removes the hassle of you having to locate an ATM on the fly. If you don’t bring cash and don’t have time to hit up the ATM you can always use your credit card at the info booth to and use the token program which benefits the food share program SNAP.
Remember that these are real-life farms coming in from local areas to share their goods, so you will be getting precisely what is in season that day.
DON’T expect acai bowls – Remember that these are real-life farms coming in from local areas to share their goods, so you will be getting precisely what is in season that day. Aka no avocados, no dragonfruit, no bananas. Think New England – apples in the fall, radishes and arugula in the spring, and the best stone fruit in the heat of August (hello peach cobbler!).
DON’T go on a Saturday – This is the busiest day of the week for the market, and it can get a little crowded and a little overwhelming. Try visiting on a weekday morning before work; they open at 8am Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Then you can stash your goodies in the fridge at your office!
DON’T arrive hungry – You’ll buy everything. We’ve made this mistake before. Have a snack before you come so you can be mindful and intentional about your purchases.
DON’T get intimidated if you don’t know how to cook with something – When you see an ingredient you don’t know or have never cooked with before, try it anyways! You can either chat with the folks who work there and ask how they like to cook it, or a quick Google search will bring up infinite options. This is how we came to love fiddlehead ferns and garlic scapes.
DON’T come with your heart set on one ingredient – The greenmarket changes every day, so something you saw last week may not be there again a week later. Go with the flow, get what looks good, and you can always hit the grocery store after to fill in the gaps!