Mom said eat your veggies

Aurora Buffington

There’s good reason your mom tried to get you to eat your veggies – they’re good for you! A diet rich in fruits and vegetables helps reduce the risk of developing chronic diseases like type 2 diabetes and heart disease, some types of cancers, and obesity. This shouldn’t come as a surprise since fruits and vegetables are full of beneficial nutrients like vitamins and minerals; soluble and insoluble fiber, and a variety of phytonutrients – not to mention they typically have a high water content making them naturally low in calories while helping fill your stomach to aid satiety. If disease prevention is too far in the future to think about, you should also know that these nutrients help you feel better in the present moment as they aid in digestion, stool regularity, improved blood glucose levels, energy metabolism, night vision, muscle contractions, and more.

Despite their nutritiousness, we don’t eat enough fruits and vegetables to meet the recommended daily amount of 1.5 – 2 cups of fruits and 2 – 3 cups of vegetables. Only 12.2% of American adults ate the recommended amount of fruits, and 9.3% got enough vegetables. We are doing a bit better in Nevada, with 13.1% of our adults meeting fruit and 11.5% meeting vegetable recommendations, however, how much better would we all feel if 100% of us were eating our fruits and veggies?

Some of the factors that influence dietary intake of fruits and vegetables may be related to access. Here’s a status snapshot of two access indicators for Nevada with the national average in parentheses:

  • Number of Farmers Markets per 100,000 residents: 1.3 (2.7) – in Clark County we have 12 year-round farmers market locations and an estimated population of 2,204,079, meaning there’s less than one (0.54) market for every 100,000 people.
  • Farmers Markets accepting WIC FMNP vouchers: 7.5% (30.8%) – in Clark County that was zero – but the good news is that the Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) will be offering Farmers Market Nutrition Program (FMNP) vouchers in Clark County next year.

Farmers markets may improve access to affordable fresh produce in areas with little to no access, such as food deserts. Not many of our markets are located in food deserts, but nearly all are situated within 0.5 miles of a bus stop. Our markets boast a delicious bounty of high-quality fresh fruits and vegetables, which become more affordable for our neighbors with limited resources when electronic benefit transfer (EBT) is accepted as payment and combined with a nutrition incentive, such as the Double Up Food Bucks program. This incentive matches a dollar for every dollar spent using Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits on fruits and vegetables at participating markets. This program provides people that otherwise might not be able to afford to shop at farmers markets with the opportunity to connect with farmers to learn about their food, and provides market vendors with an added source of revenue – it’s a Win, Win! You can help by supporting initiatives like these.

Read the State Indicator Report on Fruits and Vegetables.

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