The Charlottesville City Market, only a mile from central grounds, is packed with rows and rows of vendors offering ripe berries, freshly picked apples, colorful vegetables, meats, cheeses, flowers, soap, bread, sweets, dog treats, ice-cream, crafts and so much more. I was in complete shock at the sheer amount of stuff that was available and affordable on a college budget. As a second year, I visit the market every weekend and am disappointed to see that there are not as many UVa students at the market as there should be. Here is a list of 9 reasons why the market is completely underestimated, and why every student should make the effort to go.
1. It’s Full of Healthy Food
Don’t get me wrong, going to the grocery store and loading a cart full of prepared meals and junky snack food is cheap and easy, but the freshman fifteen would beg to differ. Just as easy and inexpensive, the City Market awaits full of fruits, vegetables and even some sweets and breads. The market is a stellar way to avoid some of the pitfalls of typical college diets so you can tell your mom you really are eating your vegetables.
2. It’s a Great Way to Connect to the Community
It’s so easy to get caught up in school and the social life of UVA that you forget that there is life beyond the Corner. The City Market is a great way to escape the UVA bubble and open yourself up the Charlottesville community. Starting a conversation with one of the vendors can create an ongoing friendship and connection, and stopping by an information booths to learn about events happening in and around the Charlottesville area are great ways to branch out into the community.
3. You Can Squeeze in Some Exercise
Getting up and going to the market on a Saturday morning is a great way to exercise. While there is the option of the free city bus that runs from UVA Grounds to the Downtown Mall, running or walking to the market can be a lot of fun and an easy way to squeeze some exercise into your already busy schedule.
4. There’s Lots of Variety
In addition to the sheer number of fruits and veggies available at the market, the unique varieties are unbelievable. Unlike the grocery stores, small farmers can specialize in crops that are more rare and harder to grow. Not only are you buying healthy food when you shop at the market, but you are buying unique and interesting food too.
5. It’s Affordable (And There are Even Student Discounts!)
As college students, we all know what it’s like to have negligible budgets and usually compromise by buying the cheapest foods. Contrary to what some people think, the City Market is just as affordable as the regular grocery store. Most things cost about the same, sometimes even less, and some of the vendors offer student discounts on their products!
6. It’s the Perfect Place to Find Gifts
When holiday season rolls around (or your Mom’s birthday) the City Market is a great place to find a one-of-a-kind gift. There are tons of craft vendors that can even make personalized gifts like jewelry or art. Instead of buying the typical Starbucks gift cards, buy some special gifts that give a taste of Charlottesville.
To escape dining hall food for a morning, or the much overeaten cereal, the City Market is the perfect place to grab some delicious grub. There are food vendors that specialize in cuisine from all over the world, including omelets, dumplings, fried rice, bagels, eggs and bacon, and so much more that it’ll be hard to choose just one.
8. It’s Colorful and Pesticide Free
Rumor has it that the more colors you have in your diet, the better it is (and no, M&M’s and Skittles do not count). As soon as you step foot into the market you are surrounded by foods that fall within the entire spectrum of colors, all without dyes. Much of the market is also organic produce, grown without harmful pesticides and is better for your belly.
9. It Helps Fulfill the Graduation Bucket List
Finally, visiting the Charlottesville City Market will give you a head start on the graduation bucket list (which includes going to the market at least once). Even though we UVA students are accomplished procrastinators, it’s never a bad idea to start a little early.