Tips For Buying The Best Produce

There’s nothing worse than returning home from the grocery store to find that the apples you bought have bruises hidden on the undersides or the strawberries you grabbed are already going soft. Fruits and veggies are a key aspect of a healthy lifestyle, but your family’s not likely to eat them if they’re not in good shape. To make sure you’re picking out the best fruits and veggies possible, here are some pointers on what to look for and what to avoid.

Take advantage of the season
Fruits and vegetables that are in-season in your area will be of higher quality. Chances are they’ll be more reasonably priced, too. Produce that’s out of season needs to be shipped long distances, which could put its quality in jeopardy and jack up prices. Stock up on in-season produce and get creative with your meal preparation and storage solutions to take advantage of the freshness and savings.

Pay attention to appearance
Fruits and vegetables should never be bought bruised or damaged, so take your time inspecting pieces before you place them in your cart. But just because certain produce looks weird doesn’t mean it’s not nutritious or flavorful. Some fruits and veggies have more exotic varieties that may look different than the ones you’re used to. Some tomatoes, for example, are supposed to be orange or have green stripes! Read the signage to figure out if what you’re looking at is a damaged product or just a different type.

Don’t be afraid to touch
Whether a fruit or vegetable should be soft or firm depends on the type, but most of the time you’re looking for firmness. Kiwis and avocados, though, should give a little with gentle pressure if you’re planning to eat them as soon as possible. The University of Tennessee Extension has a handy guide to tell you exactly what you’re looking for in each fruit and veggie.

Be careful with fresh-cut items
Fresh-cut produce like cut watermelon or salad greens should either be refrigerated or surrounded by ice. This ensures that they stay fresh and don't start to wither or shrivel.

Bag them separately
Don't put your fruits and vegetables in the same bag as raw seafood, poultry or meat products. It's nice to have the fewest amount of bags as possible, but you won't be happy if your produce gets contaminated and makes your family sick.

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