In general, remember that when you're shopping for produce:
• Use all your senses-- sight, smell, taste, and feel.
• While you, as the buyer, have a right to inspect the produce, don't damage it. It is the market's product until you buy it.
• Talk to the person behind the counter. Ask them when it was picked, where it was grown, and what types of fertilizers were used. They can also tell you some ways to use the produce.
• Refrigerate perishable fresh fruits and vegetables (like strawberries, lettuce, herbs, and mushrooms) at a temperature of 40° F or below.
• Cut away any damaged or bruised areas on fresh fruits and vegetables before preparing and/or eating.
• Wash fruits and vegetables under running water just before eating, cutting or cooking. Learning to store produce correctly can save home cooks money and heartache caused by spoiled fruits and vegetables.
• Some fruits and vegetables, such as plums, peaches and bananas, are still ripening in the store.
• The best way to store produce such as potatoes, yams, onions and other root vegetables is at room temperature. Avoid washing root vegetables until needed, since the moisture may encourage rotting.
• A crisper drawer's main advantage when you store produce is a colder air temperature, not the ability to keep crisp leafy vegetables crisp indefinitely.
• Most fruits and vegetables continue to 'breathe' after harvesting, so the perforations in the plastic bags allow for an exchange of gases.
• Organic vegetables grow more slowly so they take up larger quantities of minerals and nutrients from the soil.
There is so much variety in produce these days and knowing when to buy the best produce is important, not only for flavor but for value for your money, as well.
Not only is it more economical to buy fruits and vegetables when they are at their peak harvest time, but you get the best possible quality and flavor for all your cooking adventures.
Eating seasonal produce is a key element of Healthy Eating. The USDA Food Pyramid suggests eating 2-3 servings of fruits and 3-5 vegetable servings a day.
At 4th Generation Organic Market we feel that not just any fruits and vegetables will do. Canned and/or stored fruits lose their health benefits very quickly, so while you are able to eat and enjoy fruit all year, some no longer have the nutrients they did fresh from the ground. By focusing on seasonal produce you ensure that you are getting the most benefit from the foods you are eating. If nothing is in season, which is rare, frozen vegetables are a better option than canned.