Tips for picking the best (and freshest) produce


(NC) A diet that is rich in high-quality, fresh vegetables and fruits can be great for your overall health, but finding the tastiest, ripest and best produce isn’t always easy.

From apples to zucchini and everything in between, here are four tips on how to pick the best fruits and vegetables.

Shop locally
Certain types of fresh produce begin to lose their nutrients just 24 hours after they are picked, but local food does not have to travel as far as food imported from other regions or countries. Shopping locally is also great for the environment as it helps reduce your carbon footprint. Choosing local food also supports nearby farmers and other producers, which benefits the local economy.

Opt for organic
Some studies suggest that some organic produce may contain more vitamins, minerals and micronutrients than conventionally grown fruits and vegetables. Consuming organic produce may also reduce the chemicals you’re putting into your body because it contains fewer pesticides. Most natural health food stores like Nature’s Emporium carry organic produce exclusively, so it’s easier to avoid pesticides on your produce.

This is also helpful if you’re concerned about foods on the Environmental Working Group’s dirty dozen - 12 crops that typically have the most pesticide residue in the United States. This list includes strawberries, spinach, kale, nectarines, apples, grapes, bell and hot peppers, cherries, peaches, pears, celery and tomatoes.

Pick produce with vibrant colour
Choose fruits and vegetables that are vibrant and show consistent colour. For the freshest options, avoid fruits and vegetables that are dull, pale or show signs of discoloration. Brown or black spots on produce could mean it’s starting to go off.

Pick produce that feels firm
High quality, fresh produce is firm to the touch. When shopping for fruits and vegetables, be sure to give them a little squeeze to test their firmness. If produce is soft or feels mushy, it could be a sign that it’s well past its prime.