Skip Navigation

Eat Like a Freshman: Farmers’ Market Medley

We shopped on a budget at the biggest producers-only market in the country.

As a freshman at the UW in the fall of 2016, I had a hard time deciding what endeared me most to my new home. The serene walks through the Lakeshore Nature Preserve that ran behind my dorm, the quirky State Street stalwarts (both people and businesses), and the buzz of students flitting about a college campus contended for top spot in my already enamored heart.

The best of all these converged on the Capitol Square on Saturday mornings, at the Dane County Farmers’ Market. Museum-worthy displays of produce, breads, artwork, and more marketed by both longtime vendors and up-and-coming producers created a picturesque setting in which locals, students, and tourists mingled while supporting friends and neighbors. If there was a rite of passage as both a Badger and a Madisonian, this, I thought, was it.

That said, for all the market’s bounty, a freshman can only fit so much in a dorm’s shared minifridge — and can only afford so much on a student budget. For this month’s Eat Like a Freshman, I took the title to heart and visited the market with those limitations in mind: a freshman’s strict budget and small space.

I gave myself $20 to spend on items that would both fit in any dorm’s food storage* and that would suit the lifestyle of an individual with a busy schedule and limited access to full kitchen amenities.** Here’s what I bought:

  • Blueberries ($5) from Valor Acres: Packed with antioxidants and compact enough to take up little space in a dorm fridge, these would make a great on-the-go breakfast or study snack.
  • Chocolate banana oat scone ($5) from Chris & Lori’s Bakehouse: Made famous by Madison-based internet personality Bria Lemirande x’18, this “semi-healthy” scone may not make it home from the market, but what’s a Saturday morning stroll around the Square without a sweet treat?
  • Carrots ($3) from Yang’s Fresh Produce: Another nutrient-dense offering that packs well for dash-to-class snacking and that would make Mom proud.
  • Yellow cheddar cheese curds ($7) from Murphy Farms: Can you even say you truly visited a Wisconsin farmers’ market if your teeth don’t squeak against a cheese curd before you leave? Sharing a bag of farm-fresh Wisconsin cheese is a surefire way to make friends around here.

* UW dorms vary in their storage capacities, but most rooms do have a minifridge.

** Most dorm residents have access to kitchen spaces, either within their buildings or in neighboring ones, but they are shared in varying capacities, so I operated under the assumption that kitchen use was not guaranteed.

Related News and Stories