At Home in Lancaster: Eat, Hike, Pedal, Repeat - A community blog

Lancaster resident Stacey Kielman writes about food and fitness.

Real market value = food + comfort

Written by Stacey Kielman, Community Blogger | Oct 22, 2012 9:11 AM

Being the new gal in town does not get easier with practice. It is always interesting, always rewarding, always worthwhile, and absolutely, positively never perfectly smooth or simple. I have relocated several times, always by choice, to seek out new experiences and explore new places, and each move has provided plenty of challenges mixed in with the excitement. I have this theory that it's best to leave a place while you still love it rather than flee angrily because you've grown weary of its idiosyncrasies, and I have moved in keeping with that theory, maintaining a certain affection for each place I have lived. It all sounds fine and ideal, to be sure…but I’d be lying if I said that there haven't been weeks steeped in anxious drudgery during the first few months in any new place.

I've never quite gotten used to that weird blinding feeling that comes with the first attempts at taking in the sights and sounds of a new place that is suddenly your supposed home. It's a little like looking directly at the sun: way too overwhelming to behold directly; it’s much better to take it all in indirectly, a little bit at a time.

As much as I have not gotten used to those feelings, I have learned how to delve in and try to make myself at home. I explore new cities and towns by means of familiar establishments you find everywhere: places to eat and buy food, places to drink an assortment of beverages, places to exercise. The ties that bind, if you will. I seek out nourishment of body and usually manage to stumble upon a bit of the character of the place in the process. In other words, the only way to fit yourself into a new home is to keep on doing what you do, and find the places to do it. The minute you change your whole routine and set of priorities just because you're someplace new is the minute that things can go a little haywire. Save the going haywire thing for later on in your tenure. You've already mixed things up sufficiently well by relocating. No need to throw more wrenches.

Doing whatever comprises your own, personal normal helps to (re)create your comfort zone, no matter what the rest of the community or world is doing, wherever you may be.

For me, those places are cafes, restaurants and other food establishments, trails, open roads, hills, mountains, and open spaces where I feel like I'm on a planet, not just amidst a sea of constructed stuff and hurried people. As I find my familiar places in an unfamiliar setting, little by little, I'm home before I know it.


Central Market was one of the first places I explored when I got to Lancaster in December. My body was a little shocked from the cold and I was in search of warmth and comfort in the form of food. Truth be told, you barely needed a jacket as it was unseasonably warm, but to me, it was cold! Having come from Arizona, my body was shivering, my mind was reeling, my stuff was a mess, and there was no food in the house. So, to market I went...where there's a bit more character than at Giant, to say the least, and you have lots of fabulous choices and friendly faces ready to sell you tasty goodies.

When you go, it's good to have a list of things you actually need because you will undoubtedly forget the distinction between actual need and impulsive “need” upon encountering the Spice Man's many offerings, the Turkey Lady's pastrami, and the bakeries. Oh, the bakeries.

In addition to having a list, you should be sure you have some time. Take a few minutes, a half an hour, however long you need to meander around with eyes wide open before you even look at that list and employ the tunnel vision necessary for efficient shopping. I still allow myself this free time at first, and I find new gems every time I go.


Here's the lowdown:

Stalls are arranged pretty much willy-nilly. Similar vendors are not necessarily situated close to one another, so that is all the more reason to take a few minutes and see what all there is and where the heck it is.

Market is open three days each week: Tuesday 6-4, Friday 6-4, and Saturday 6-2. The physical address is 23 North Market Street, Lancaster. For more information, check out the website:

Feel free to ask questions of the vendors. They are good at what they do and they know their products. I have gotten many a gardening tip from produce sellers there, as well as ideas on how to cook various cuts of meat, tubers, and the like.

Take your own reusable bags! Most of the stands will offer bags, but it's a lot easier to manage two overflowing sturdy cloth bags than twenty-seven overstuffed plastic bags.

Some highlights:

Barr's Farms - Produce, herbs, and friendly faces. They grow a lot of what they sell, and the prices are outstanding. During tomato season, they’ll often have some un-pretty specimens in bags behind the counter and will sell them for super cheap. Some people call them Uglies; I call them Perfect Sauce Tomatoes. The same goes for peppers. Just ask.


Stoltzfus Meats - Excellent pork (try the hickory smoked bacon) and beef and advice when you need it. They also have great deals on frozen meats, so be sure and look at the white board or inquire if that's something that interests you.

The Spice Man - If you’re looking for a specific and unusual seasoning, or a specific and totally usual seasoning, he has it or he knows where to find it. And he'll let you smell before you buy! Be sure and check out his tea selection. I have to limit myself to one new tea each month.

Mean Cup - They serve up just that: a mean cuppa “Joe”…or espresso… or Chaider (chai + cider, I assume)...or whatever gets your blood pumping! Just don't ask for a "tall" drink. They don't speak Starbucks there. And that is just one small reason to love them and fork over the money for the good stuff.

Check them out on Facebook, or stop by and place your order. The line winds around the corner, NOT across the aisle, if you please. And it's worth the wait.


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