Does Eating More Fruits & Vegetables Matter? Ask the Veggie Meter!

May 25, 2018

By Sarah Sheppard,  BS-NDTR, Nutrition Programs Manager

On May 23, 2018, the Food Bank of Delaware unveiled its newest tool to encourage the consumption of more fruits and vegetables – the Veggie Meter. For program participants wondering if eating fruits and vegetables will really make a difference in their diet, the Veggie Meter provides real data to back up our Community Nutrition Educators’ claims.

Fruits and vegetables that are green, yellow, orange, and red, contain pigments called carotenoids that make their vibrant color and help with photosynthesis. When we consume these colorful fruits and vegetables, those carotenoids are stored in our bodies as antioxidants that can help lower our risk of disease. One of the places carotenoids are stored is our skin.

Some fruits and vegetables that contain carotenoids include:
• Kale
• Sweet potato
• Oranges
• Bell peppers
• Carrots
• Tomatoes
• Butternut squash
• Pumpkin
• Plantains
• Collard greens
• Cantaloupe
• Papaya

The Veggie Meter uses a LED light and a process called reflection spectroscopy to measure the amount of carotenoids stored in our skin. The more carotenoids someone consumes, the more their Veggie Meter score will rise over time. Everyone’s Veggie Meter score is different, but anyone can raise their score by eating more fruits and vegetables.

In the photo above, Gina Maresca, Community Nutrition Educator, provides nutrition education to a Produce Rx participant who is using the Veggie Meter for the first time.

We will be using our Veggie Meter at Produce Prescription distributions to help measure how much participant diets improve when provided with their produce packages, and at health fairs statewide to get families excited about consuming fruits and vegetables. Be on the lookout for the Veggie Meter visiting your local Produce Prescription distribution or Community Health Fair!

For information about the Produce Prescription program, please contact Kerry Rafferty O’Connell at koconnell@fbd.org. If you’re interested in community nutrition education services, please contact Gina Maresca at gmaresca@fbd.org for New Castle County or Sarah Sheppard at swoods@fbd.org for Kent and Sussex counties.

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