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Green Tips: How to Shop for, Wash, & Store Produce

Green Tips | June 18, 2020

What we put in our bodies can influence our health. Eating a nutrient-dense diet with lots of fruits and vegetables has been found to reduce the likelihood of developing chronic diseases. However, modern day agricultural practices can leave fruits and vegetables laden with pesticides and herbicides that can impact human health. If you’re looking to add more produce to your diet in a safe and sustainable way, check out this week’s Green Tips on how to shop for, wash, and store your produce. 

Buying Local/In Season

Buying local produce means less carbon output than buying imported produce. Shopping at your local farmers market is a great way to get in-season, nutrient-dense produce. With less distance to travel, farmers can harvest their crops at peak ripeness to sell nearby. Before heading to your nearest farmers market, check out a few of our tips:

  • Don’t be afraid to ask questions! 
    • Find out where the farm is located. It’s certainly a plus if the produce is grown within 100 miles of where you live. 
    • Ask if pesticides or herbicides are used on the produce.
  • Bring your own reusable produce bags, jars, or containers. Rubber bands are also useful to have with you.
  • Many farmers only take cash, so be prepared. 
  • Bring food scraps if your local farmers market has a bin for compost collection.

Dirty Dozen & Clean Fifteen

Each year the Environmental Working Group (EWG) ranks the top 12 foods with the most pesticides on their Dirty Dozen list. The EWG also puts out the Clean Fifteen list with the top 15 foods found to have the least amount of pesticides. When you can, opt for organic produce.

Washing Produce

Whether conventional or organic, you should always wash your produce in order to reduce pesticide exposure. Check out some of our tips on preparing your produce for consumption:

  • Scrub root vegetables and firm fruits using dish soap. Rinse very well. 
  • Remove the outer layers of leafy vegetables (like lettuce) or peels before consuming. 
  • Soak berries or other fruits and vegetables eaten with the skin on in a vinegar solution: 4 parts water to 1 part vinegar. Soak for 10 minutes, then dry on a towel. This also reduces the growth of mold and keeps berries and other produce fresher over time.
  • At the very least, run your produce under running water.

Sustainable Storage 

After your produce is washed thoroughly, it’s important to store it correctly to extend its life and keep it fresh. Plastic wrap is a popular go-to for storing produce, but try to cut back on your plastic consumption by checking out some of these more sustainable options: 

  • For produce bought without a container, store it in reused glass containers or paper bags.
  • Wrap a damp towel around vegetables high in water content.
  • For any leafy produce or fruit you would not soak in the vinegar solution, place a dry paper towel or napkin in the container to absorb moisture and prevent mold growth.
  • There are also plenty of food storage gadgets and solutions online.

We hope you found our Green Tips for purchasing, washing, and storing produce helpful. Say goodbye to moldy strawberries, soggy spinach, and dried out carrots! Enjoy!

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