Skipping the grocery store

(Photo by Jeremy Enns)

Saturday morning plays host to multiple markets across the K-W region. The famous St. Jacob’s Market can be intimidating, and daunting, for the solo shopper but the Kitchener Market, located just past Benton St. on King, in downtown Kitchener, is a much easier place to navigate.

Not having a car isn’t problem for the adventurous student. Just take the number seven bus,  doesn’t matter which letter, to Cedar St. and you can walk right into the Kitchener Market doors.

Spread over two stories, the upstairs market, with international food vendors sells everything from traditional Canadian breakfasts with bacon, eggs and toast, to Mexican enchiladas and Indian samosas.

Walking past the vendors, and watching them prepare the fresh, made-to-order food is a mouth-watering experience.

Heading downstairs, with a full stomach, the shopper has the opportunity to see what southwestern Ontario’s independent food retailers have to offer.

Everything from meat, cheese, grains, produce, and even emu oil, are available to purchase. Independent buskers stand at corners of the open space and serenade shoppers as they pass by.

Vendors create colourful and eye-catching displays, offering samples to those passing by. Each vendor offers detailed explanations of their products enthusiastically explaining the value of buying local and supporting businesses in the community; an expertise grocery stores lack.

The vendors encourage us to acquire knowledge about the food we consume. The outside market, which is covered, providing refuge from this month’s awful weather, is a winding path of fresh fruits and vegetables to be explored.

Everything you can imagine and more is available here in a dizzying array of colourful options that would make even the pickiest of eaters salivate. However, it’s important to remember basic market rules. Bartering may not be a viable option but comparing prices between vendors is a must.

If you’re new to the market scene it’s a good idea to go prepared with a list of things you want as it can be overwhelming.

Since we eat with our eyes, it’s easy to succumb to impulse, and though market prices are considerably cheap, it’s easy to shell out money for things you don’t really need.

Going with a friend is also a good idea, since many things, especially produce, come in bulk. For example, I bought what my roommate described as a “tree” of kale, and though it was only $2, I think I’d be able to survive on kale alone for the next week.

It’s also a good idea to bring your own bags to the Kitchener market – not every vendor gives them out, and hey, it’s important to be mindful of our environment.

Since most of the produce is local and organic, it tends to be fresher longer than store foods. It tastes better too since chances are it was picked when ripe rather than maturing in a warehouse.

Less travel between farm and market also means that farmers can sell you produce at a reduced rate from the grocery stores.

To compare, a cucumber costs 50 cents at the market, and a dollar fifty at Valu-Mart. A box of mixed peppers (about five of them) was $3, and I picked up loaf of fresh, multi-grain bread for a mere dollar.

After a morning of shopping, we each spent under $15 on groceries and feel confident in our vegetable and fruit intake for the week – another week of scurvy avoided. Success!

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