Monthly Health Message:

Why You Should Shop at a Farmers Market

July 2014

Karen Ensle Ed.D., RDN, FAND, CFCS
Family and Community Health Sciences Educator, Union County

Farmer's markets allow you to purchase fresh, local vegetables and fruits along with other regional food and beverage products. What if you don't have a farmers market near you? Look for roadside stands. They sell many of the same fresh, seasonal foods that farmers markets sell. Just take a break from driving and pull your car over and shop!

Fresh fruit and vegetables are full of antioxidants and phytonutrients.
Antioxidants are natural substances that may stop or limit the damage caused by free radicals. Your body uses antioxidants to stabilize free radicals and keep them from causing damage to other cells. Antioxidants can protect and reverse the damage caused by oxidation to some extent. To get the most antioxidants, eat a diet that includes a healthy mix of colorful fruits and vegetables and other antioxidant-rich foods:

  • Vitamin A is found in milk, liver, butter, and eggs.
  • Vitamin C is found in most fruits and vegetables. Those with the highest amounts of vitamin C include papayas, strawberries, oranges, cantaloupe, and kiwi, as well as bell peppers, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, tomatoes, cauliflower, and kale.
  • Vitamin E is found in some nuts and seeds, including almonds, sunflower seeds, hazelnuts and peanuts. It can also be found in green leafy vegetables, such as spinach and kale, and in oils, such as soybean, sunflower, corn, and canola oils.
  • Beta-carotene is found in colorful fruits and vegetables, including carrots, peas, cantaloupe, apricots, papayas, mangoes, peaches, pumpkin, apricots, broccoli, sweet potatoes, and squash. It can also be found in some leafy green vegetables, including beet greens, spinach, and kale.
  • Lutein is found in green leafy vegetables, such as spinach, collards and kale, broccoli, corn, peas, papayas, and oranges.
  • Lycopene is found in pink and red fruits and vegetables, such as pink grapefruit, watermelon, apricots, and tomatoes.
  • Selenium is found in cereals (corn, wheat, and rice), nuts, legumes, animal products (beef, fish, turkey, chicken, eggs and cheese), bread, and pasta.
Freshly picked ripe food is at its peak in flavor and nutrition.
Learn to enjoy delicious fresh foods that are rich in the colors of the rainbow and are also loaded with key nutrients that reduce our risk for obesity and other diseases.

Shopping at farmers markets supports local farmers and keeps the money you spend close to your neighborhood. Find a farmers market near you and plan your next shopping trip now! Take these small steps to eat well, help farmers be successful, and help save farmland in your area.


  1. Rutgers
  2. Executive Dean of Agriculture and Natural Resources
  3. School of Environmental and Biological Sciences