Meredith Wagner | Social Media Editor
For college students everywhere, managing a healthy diet can feel overwhelming. But for Baylor students, the pursuit of a wholesome lifestyle may begin and end just down the street. Open from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. every Saturday, the Waco Downtown Farmers Market is a hub for Wacoans both young and old seeking to support the local economy and purchase fresh products and ingredients. The market features a wide array of vendors from Waco and neighboring cities, each of which specializes in growing, raising or creating a unique product.
Located at 500 Washington Ave., just across the street from the McLennan County Courthouse, the market is a mere five-minute drive from Baylor’s campus. Though accessible, relying on the farmers market as one’s primary source of groceries can feel difficult both practically and financially. Multiple market vendors said that feelings of the like can be overcome by smart budgeting and a good mindset toward food.
Gala Gerber, market vendor at World Hunger Relief Inc., said she thinks that healthier food can actually be less expensive in the long run.
“If you eat more natural and nutritional food, you don’t have to eat as much filler junk food,” Gerber said.
But, according to Gerber, raw produce is not always nutrient-dense.
“A carrot today isn’t the same as a carrot from ten years ago. It depends on the soil,” Gerber said. “It’s important to know where your food comes from.”
Gerber has interned for World Hunger Relief Inc., a non-profit organic farm in Waco, for nearly one year. She said she plays a role in each step of growing its produce, from germinating seeds in the greenhouse and transferring small plants to the garden, to daily upkeep and eventual harvest. According to Gerber, prioritizing responsibly grown food may be the first step to a smart budget.
Happy Stuff, a small business dedicated to all natural home and body products, is stationed just a few booths away from World Hunger Relief. Jill Boman, founder and owner, said her products are priced low compared to other natural, homemade products. She encouraged the use of natural products as opposed to the leading brands.
“We are inundated nowadays with toxins, and many of these toxins are carcinogenic, endocrine disrupting,” Boman said. “It takes less than 30 seconds for some of the chemicals on our skin to get to our bloodstream.”
The largely unfamiliar names of chemicals that label mainstream products can be compared to Jill’s handwritten notecards, including ingredients as simple as baking soda or coconut oil.
“It’s really important to put clean stuff on your skin, so that you’re not contributing to your toxic load,” Boman said.
As for Jill, she said she cares about her community more than expansion or profit.
With a wide variety of offerings and a community-oriented mission, the market has potential to help both students and Wacoans develop healthy habits. To stay on budget, it may help to create a meal plan for the coming week before your trip to the market, to compare prices between booths and to buy in-season produce. Seasonal produce offerings can be found at wacodowntownfarmersmarket.org.