Living Off the Farmer’s Market

This post was originally written as a work sample for a job at the Vanguard, Portland State University’s weekly school newspaper. Also note that the photo below is not mine and none of the photos I use are mine, unless I state otherwise. 

produceIt’s a cold Saturday morning but the sun is shining. As you make your way over to the Park Blocks you hear a guitar and something that could pass for a folk song. You arrive to see the walkways flooded with early risers and a pinch of irregular students, studying at the library. Food stands flank the paths but you make a beeline for C’est Si Bon for a pork, caramelized onion, apple butter crepe.

This is what my Saturday morning feels like when I visit the Portland Farmers Market at PSU. If I am up early, I might make it there by 10:00am. The market, however, is up and running at 9:00am during the winter and runs until 2:00pm. I usually arrive later than I plan.

During the summer, the market is in full swing with well over a hundred vendors running a stand of one sort or another. The produce beats Safeway by a mile but you can also find meat, dairy, baked goods, and lots of specialty shops selling things like gourmet pasta sauce. Even in winter the Portland Farmers Market has a lot to offer. You can still find perfect pears, apples, root vegetables, kale and squash galore, among other things. I do recommend getting there early for the best selection.

For a student budget, you can find a lot of good food. Your best best will be in produce, dairy, and bread or bakery items. Meat will always be pricey as will specialty items. I like to take advantage of the token program in place. I get Food Stamp money every month and I take my EBT card to the market. At the information booth they can exchange a token for every dollar for EBT as well as credit/debit cards. Every stand has to take these tokens (not all take cards) and you can use them to barter down prices to the full dollar (e.g. $2.35 becomes $2.00 and you save $0.35). If the barter doesn’t work in your favor monetarily, and you end up paying $4.00 for something that cost $3.75, most vendors will throw in an extra vegetable or extra free samples. Also, the tokens are refundable at any time and never expire.

So you can get great food (including hot food), meet vendors who actually know the farmers, and maybe save a little money along the way. Going to the Portland Farmers Market is an experience that is healthy, entertaining, eco-friendly, and full of food. This includes free food, and how can you say no to that?


How to Look Good When Sick

I’ve been a little under the weather this past week or so. It sucks. Stuffy nose, sore throat, runny nose, headaches, body aches, etc. Despite all that, it was also my first few days at a new job and I was bound and determined to not call in sick. So how does one work two jobs and fool everyone? A little magic and a lot of drugs (by drugs I mean medication. I always call medicine drugs because that’s what they are. It’s called a drugstore. ).

First, I recommend that you do all you can medically to make yourself better and/or minimize your symptoms. (All of the following advice is for colds. If you have a fever,are throwing up, or have a severe case of anything, call in sick and stay home.) I’m a fan of Day Quil, Ibuprofen, Neti Pot, and soup. Another big thing is sleeping at night. I may wake up often most nights but I’ve woken up restful in the morning (though not feeling any less sick). Drink water like a fish. Or like a dehydrated sickie because that’s what you are. Also try to avoid coffee and dairy ( I still give in to the coffee, today i’m switching to black). Drink tea instead. Tea with sugar or honey is still better than coffee with milk. (Dairy increases mucus production, coffee is really dehydrating.)

Second, I want you to stay clean. Shower as often as you can (it feels amazing and you’ll smell better) or take a bath. Brush your teeth often to hide that you might smell sick. Keep up with your grooming habits: pluck your eyebrows, shave your legs (if visible), shave other things (face, armpits, etc), comb your hair if that’s what you do. The idea is to 1) mask/erase the smell of sickness 2) imply that nothing is wrong with you.

Thirdly , and this one is more aimed towards girls or those who wear makeup, put a little effort into your morning. Give yourself extra time, maybe an hour. I move really slow when I’m sick because, well, I’d rather not move at all. But I must get ready for work so I take an extra hour if I can spare it to get ready. For my first job, I try to curl my hair well and wear a little makeup. At my second job, I have to put my hair up so I just throw it back but I touch up my makeup with powder. If you don’t normally wear makeup, i’m not saying “Go buy makeup!”. But if you do wear makeup, don’t skip applying it. If you are constantly blowing your nose, bring foundation/powder with you to touch up later to cover redness. Invest in the lotion based tissues. It’s okay to put a tiny bit more effort into your look, people will think you’re having a good hair day or whatever. But don’t overdo it. If you don’t normally wear makeup, don’t go to work or school with a full face (mascara, foundation, powder, blush((which I would avoid now anyways)), lipgloss, eyeliner, etc.) Don’t forget chapstick if you have chapped lips! It will also make you (almost) look like you’re wearing lipgloss. If your lips are not chapped, but likely to go there, get some Burts Bees tinted lipbalm (not the shimmer kind, the other kind). It gives you a slight tint, plus moisture.

Lastly, dress normally. At home, you can wear PJ’s all day, sweatpants, yoga pants, or no pants! But when you head out to work or school, and you want to fool everyone, wear your normal clothes. For my first job that means tights and flats and a skirt and blouse. Kinda fancy. If your normal wardrobe is yoga pants and uggs, then wear that (but we should have a talk).

I hope this was at least a little helpful for those who have never faked it til they had made it. I am not a doctor, or a beautician. This is just what I do to get by when I have to work. If I don’t get better after a week, I’ll call out sick from both jobs if I can. Now go eat some soup! But keep an eye on the clock 🙂  cool-cartoon-1195800