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It’s summer in New Jersey – banner planes are flying over the beach, pools are filled with the sounds of happy children and local farmers markets are in full swing. While shopping at your local farmers market is a great way to find fresh, local produce for you and your family, it can be a confusing experience. Here are some shopping tips and tidbits to help you get informed before you buy.

What does organic mean?

Many local farms boast that their food is organic. In the U.S. that means the crops were grown without the use of synthetic pesticides, genetically modified organisms (GMOs), petroleum-based fertilizers or sewage-based fertilizers.

“Livestock can be organic too,” says Emma Stafford, RN, APN-C, ACHPN, APHN-BC, Integrative Nurse Practitioner with Hackensack Meridian Integrative Health & Medicine. “That means any livestock raised for meat, eggs and dairy products must have access to the outdoors and be given organic feed. They also may not be given antibiotics, growth hormones or any animal by-products.”

What’s the benefit of buying organic?

Organic produce has fewer pesticides and is often fresher because it doesn’t contain the preservatives that allow it to last longer. Also, organic farming tends to be better for the environment.

What to buy?

While buying fresh, organic fruits and vegetables are always a healthy choice, you might be surprised at the other healthy options often available at your farmers market:

Raw Honey

Raw honey contains many benefits. It’s free from additives and can be used as a natural cough syrup.

“Local honey can also help if you suffer from allergies by making you less sensitive to your local pollen and easing your symptoms,” says Stafford.

Lastly, raw honey is a prebiotic, helping increase the levels of good bacteria in your digestive tract. 

Juices

Juicing helps you absorb all the nutrients in vegetables and can help hide the taste of some less desirable vegetables, exposing your family to a wider variety of produce.  

Hackensack Meridian Health’s Farmers Markets
Hackensack Meridian Health is sponsoring farmers markets throughout New Jersey this season. Find the farmers market near you and check out our healthy recipes: www.hackensackmeridianhealth.com/farmersmarket

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