Bee Strong: Union Square Greenmarket/Farmers Market

Union Sqaure Market

Irene Ross is a Health Coach based in New York City.

Talk about having it all!  Whether you need a little tranquility in the fast paced environment of Manhattan, or are looking for excitement, you’ll find it all here.

The Union Square Greenmarket is the largest market of Grows NYC, a not-for-profit that began 30 years ago with one small farmer’s market on the corner of 2nd Avenue and 59th Street.  Today, the Union Square Farmers Market is world-renowned and has over 140 producers who come from as far as 100 miles north; 200 miles south; the East End of Long Island. The market is located around Union Square Park, 14th to 17th Streets and from Park Avenue South to Union Square West.

It is open Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday from 8:00 AM to 6:00 PM.  The Union Square Greenmarket is on Facebook or you can follow them on Twitter (UnSqGreenmarket).

The Oasis in a Concrete Jungle

Fresh air, greenery, flowers, sunshine, farmers, bakers, artisans, florists—surrounding one of the City’s most eclectic parks– make this a great mini-getaway.

“It does seem a little odd that you can find peace of mind in such a crowded place, but I used to come to the market just to get away from it all,” said 35-year-old Tara LaRuffa, who began her career in fashion, but eventually came to work at the Union Square Greenmarket.

Hustle and Bustle

Hordes of people, many with strollers and dogs, pinch, poke and sniff things like the fresh locally grown ginger that you’ll never find the likes of in a supermarket, or the fresh chervil, basil or other herbs.  Here, you’ll see some of the best chefs and restaurateurs in the world, including Mario Batali of Babbo, David Change of Momofuko, or Alex Guarneschelli of Butter. Or maybe you’ll spot the many celebrities who shop at the market– Susan Sarandon, Aaron Neville, Meryl Streep, or John Turturro.

But if you’re really lucky, you’ll see television crews filming, whether it’s a major network like WNBC, who recently interviewed food author Michael Pollan (In Defense of Food; Food Rules) or a cooking show on the Food Network.

Food-Lovers’ Delight

If your idea of a salad is iceberg lettuce wedges, get yourself down to the Union Square Greenmarket–immediately!

Here, you’ll find the freshest, healthiest and most delicious foods on the planet, ranging from a colorful, and sometimes unusual array of vegetables, fruits and herbs; jams; sweets; pretzels; cheeses; breads; 100% grass-fed beef; pastured chicken; fresh fish.  My friend, Claudette, insists on only buying her fish here.  “It tastes so fresh and so different from anything in supermarkets,” she says.

What to do with all this great food?  Well, you can talk to the farmers.  Or, you can stop by the Manager’s Station to pick up some recipes, like the “Berried Treasures Farm Salad,” created by Chef Robin Puskas of NY Kitchen (who gives a cooking demo every Friday morning) or “Sweet & Sour Rhubarb and Arugula Salad,” created by The Natural Gourmet Institute for Health & Culinary Arts who will give a cooking demo this Saturday (June 19) morning.


School tours are hosted regularly, and The High School of Food and Finance comes in with teacher chefs who guide the student apprentices with shopping, preparation, even cooking demos.

Recently, a Seafood Throwdown was held at the Union Square Greenmarket.  This Iron-Chef inspired program featured Chef Teresa Montano of Colors Restaurant, who faced off against members of the artist collective, Spurse, in a heart-pounding race to transform a mystery seafood into culinary delights.  The event was judged by Greenmarket fisherman Phil Karlin.

It was a collaboration between Spurse, Northwest Atlantic Marine Alliance (NAMA), GrowNYC/Greenmarkets and Whitney Museum of American Art. It was a fun, educational and community-driven activity designed to link the importance of locally caught seafood to the health and resilience of our ocean.

Good Karma

Farmers are a dying breed “In fact, one farmer recently told me that if it weren’t for the greenmarket, he’d probably have to go out of business,” said Tara.  When you buy local, you’re helping to ensure fair wages, humane treatment of animals, minimal energy consumption, soil enrichment, and the protection of air and water quality. And, remember, things like transportation, processing, and packing stress out the environment.

The market is located around Union Square Park, 14th to 17th Streets and from Park Avenue South to Union Square West.

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