Incorporating plenty of fruit and vegetables into your diet is one of the best ways to live a healthier lifestyle. We’ve put together some fresh produce shopping tips that will help save you money, make your produce purchases last longer, and help you choose the healthiest fruit and vegetables for you and your family.
#1 Eat according to the season
Buying produce that is in season means that it’s cheaper, fresher and more nutritious. When you buy fruit and vegetables that are not in season locally, it means that they’ve been brought in from elsewhere. More travel time = more time to lose nutrients along the way, more money spent on transport and a greater carbon footprint.
#2 Embrace the freezer aisle
Contrary to popular belief, fresh isn’t always best. Most frozen fruit and veg are flash-frozen at peak freshness, which means that you’re still getting all the same nutrients as fresh (and sometimes even more!). You’re also getting produce that’s cheaper, and you’re not faced with the problem of it going bad before you eat it.
Top tip – Try frozen fruit chunks in your smoothies for a richer, creamier texture.
#3 Support local farmers
Buying local produce at farmers’ markets supports the local economy and lets you find out from the source about how the produce has been grown. It’s generally harvested more recently than the fruit and veg you find on supermarket shelves too.
#4 Browse at the back
Supermarket staff are often taught to rotate produce, putting newer fresher items at the back so that the older items at the front sell first. Carefully reach to the back of the shelf when choosing your produce, which also ensures that fewer people have handled it, and don’t forget to check the expiry date.
#5 Pause before buying pre-cut and pre-packed
Unless you’re really stretched for time when it comes to meal prep, try to avoid buying pre-cut fruit and veg. Not only does it cost a lot more, but it also may not be as nutritious. Typically, the skin or rind of the plant locks in nutrients and helps prevent it from deteriorating, so it should only be removed right before eating.
It’s also best not to buy pre-packed fruit and vegetables. Rather select loose produce and pack it into your own cotton mesh bag to minimise single-use plastic and polystyrene packaging.
#6 Wash produce thoroughly – but not right away
Every piece of produce you put in your mouth must be washed thoroughly under running water (even if it claims to be ‘ready to eat’). However, don’t wash everything at once as soon as you get home from your grocery shopping; wash your produce just before you eat it to preserve its freshness and lifespan.
#7 Who needs perfect-looking produce?
That wonky tomato or gnarly carrot can be just as healthy as the good-looking, symmetrical kind. When choosing your produce, rather judge it by the peel (nice and tight, not wrinkly) and the weight – the fruit or vegetable should seem heavy for its size, hinting at the good water content.
#8 Spread out your shopping days
If possible, try not to do your grocery shopping on a Saturday – like everyone else! Most deliveries arrive at supermarkets earlier in the week, giving you a better chance of getting fresher goods on these days. Better yet, hit the farmers’ market for a pleasant morning out!
#9 Head for the plant nursery
Instead of buying all your fruit and vegetables, why not try growing some of your own? Even if you don’t have a garden, you can start by growing fresh herbs in pots for a new flavour sensation for your food, remembering that some plants have edible flowers too. If you do have a garden, veggies like spinach and carrots grow well year-round. Frilly lettuces also look pretty amongst your flower beds. Not only will you have your own organic produce, but you may develop a new hobby too!
We hope you’ve found these tips helpful! Quality produce is so important to us, which is why we promote sustainable farming through soil health – benefiting the Earth, the farmer, the community and the consumer. Find out more about what we do: https://www.zylemsa.co.za/.