BY Kevin Marceski
Every Thursday morning, Douglass campus is delivered a fantastic bounty of fresh fruits and vegetables sold at dirt cheap (pun intended) prices courtesy of the New Brunswick Community Farmers Market. The NBCFM is a joint partnership between Rutgers, Johnson & Johnson, and the City of New Brunswick that brings fresh, high-quality produce right onto our campus at a fraction of the price you’d see in many of the local grocery stores in town. The market is run almost exclusively out of Pop’s Farm, a local farm located in Monroe Township that has an extraordinary selection of produce from garlic to cabbage, radishes and broccoli, apples of every variety you’ve ever seen (and then some!), and all the leafy greens you could want! Past week’s markets have even featured Benson’s Barbeque, a local favorite, grilling up ribs and chicken to satisfy your inner carnivore. All of these options come at an extreme bargain too, which is always a plus for that college sized hole in your wallet. For less than $8 you can stock up on an entire week’s worth of vegetables that would otherwise cost you twice as much at Bravo. But the greatness that is the NBCFM doesn’t end with us as students. The New Brunswick Community Farmers Market is so much more than just a sweet deal for Cook/Douglass students; their official mission is as follows:
The New Brunswick Community Farmers Market exists in order to provide high-quality food for members of the community who are at risk of hunger and lack of access to healthy foods. By purchasing from our market vendors, you are supporting our mission to provide a place where families can buy fresh, locally-grown fruits, vegetables, and healthy products.
You see, New Brunswick is what we would call a food desert—an area, often a city or densely populated area, where dietary options are restricted to few, if any healthy choices. Most of the food available in these areas are processed, fast foods that remain popular out of necessity both geographic and economic.
The few options that tout healthier selections are often far more expensive than their unhealthy counterparts, providing further incentive to remain on a diet of fatty, processed foods. New Brunswick fits this model to a T, where even Chipotle is a contender for one of its healthiest options.
The Farmers Market brings a healthier option to the table at a much lower cost than any of its relative com petitors, and they do it in a way that helps even those most disenfranchised from buying healthier choices make that change. The Market has developed a system in coordination with the SNAP program to help those with tighter budgets include even more fruits and vegetables in their diets. For every $10 spent using SNAP/EBT, WIC, or Senior Farmers Market Checks, customers get an additional $5 to spend on anything in the market. At their already low prices, gaining an additional $5 in produce lets members of the community get the most for their money while moving towards a healthier lifestyle. Having an outlet for people to choose healthier foods at prices that won’t cripple their wallets is an essential service for the city of New Brunswick. Just awarded Best in Class by the American Farmland Trust, the NBCFM is well on its way to becoming that outlet. Support from the students of Rutgers means a more prosperous community for us all and if we can do that while enjoying a crisp apple on a windy day, I’d say it’s worth it.