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GreenMarkets: Eating Well on the Cheap in NYC

I like food. Nay, I love food. I went to a job interview at Café 2 in the Museum of Modern Art once where the interviewer told me that my face “lit up” when I started talking about chorizo. That is not a joke.

Unfortunately I’ve also got $40 to ride until next week and big plans to wyle out all weekend. This clashes with any  basic human need for sustenance, and I get very fucking cranky when I’m hungry. Sadly, I am not the kind of person who can eat a three packs of Maruchan Ramen and call that a meal. I know. First world problems.

Worry not, brokeasses. You can be an elitist bitch with only change to spare. I’ll show you how.

The best way I’ve found is to embrace the Greenmarket. These are all over New York City, and there’s one open every day somewhere within the five boroughs. There’s even one in Staten Island. Really.

The overarching benefits of shopping here instead of wherever else you intend to buy your ramps and pretentious cheese are fairly lofty: the produce is straight from the farmer, so you are not paying extemporaneous fees for shipping, handling and advertising like you would in a normal grocery store. And that’s better for you and better for the planet.

However, there are some sneaky benefits in store for penny-pinching shoppers at Greenmarkets as well, especially if you have no shame. Namely: you can haggle and bargain with farmers, especially if you are getting more than one type of intolerable microgreen or color of potato. Pretend to be only getting one thing, get a quote from the seller, and then let them convince you to get the second thing you were already (secretly!) going to get for a good bargain. If that fails, pull out a crumpled wad of cash and feel free to pretend to only have $6 on an $8 tab. Dignity is for the rich.

Probably the best greenmarket-on-the-cheap strategy, though, is to show up at the very end: I’m talking about 5pm at the big one in Union Square, which closes at 6pm. Last Saturday I got two half-priced loaves of fresh-baked nice, seedy, chewy bread for a grand total of four bucks because he was trying to get rid of the leftovers of the day rather than haul them all home. Four bucks! I froze one. Sara Lee can’t touch this. Another seller, haunted by visions of them wilting in her backseat, threw in two arugula plants for free when I bought some tomatoes the size of my fist from her. Desperation is best served organic.

If these strategies don’t work, don’t despair. In a dire situation, you can always convince your Giada-you-wish friend to throw a dinner party – people under 30 love throwing them for maturity points but have yet to realize what a pain in the ass they are. Bring your favorite three buck chuck. I hope your friends know how to braise.

Union Square Greenmarket
Union Square West
between 15th and 17th St. [Manhattan]
Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays, 8am – 6pm, year-round.
FREE entry

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About the author

Polina Yamshchikov - Flirt Poor

Polina is Siberian by way of Alabama, and therefore cannot pronounce "fire" or "iron" correctly but despite this can still woo men with her cooking skills and enormous Russian cheeks. She can usually be spotted on the streets of Brooklyn either yelling into a cell phone in one of five languages or swilling gin at an inappropriate hour of the morning.