Fresh from the farm, produce is at its best. But what if the closest thing to you is not white picket fences, but city skyscrapers? Here's how you can make the most of your produce so that each bite tastes as fresh as it does right off the farm.
If it's winter and you're craving strawberries, you'll likely have to settle for ones grown in countries closer to the equator. When fruits are in season locally, however, you have much greater odds of tasting juicy strawberries that are pleasing to your taste buds. Deborah Orlick Levy, a health and nutrition consultant for Carrington Farms, says if you aren't sure which produce is in season, go online to websites like Produce Plus, which will give you the months that different fruits and vegetables are ripe for the picking.
The longer produce sits on the shelves, the greater odds it's beginning to lose some of its flavor. Because every store is different, check with your favorite neighborhood grocer to find out when it gets its shipment of fresh fruits and veggies. Your taste buds will thank you.
Fruits, vegetables and other produce sold at farmer's markets don't have to travel as far as produce coming from across the country. "This means they are sprayed with fewer pesticides to keep those pesky bugs away, making it easier for your body to digest," says Carrie Minter, owner and CEO of Carrie Minter's Pilates Plus.
What better way to get fresh produce than to pick it right out of your garden? Try a tomato fresh off the vine from your garden and then try one from your local grocery store. Tell me it's not worth the extra time spent cultivating that delicious and juicy addition to your meal.
More and more cities now have food co-ops where you volunteer your time for reduced-cost produce, as well as other locally grown and raised foods, says best-selling celebrity fitness and nutrition expert JJ Virgin. Not only do you learn more about gardening and enjoy fresh produce — you also gain an opportunity to foster relationships with your neighbors.
OK, so frozen produce doesn't exactly scream "fresh." But frozen produce can have not only similar, but at times better nutritional value compared to the fresh stuff, says Dr. Natalie Digate Muth, American Council on Exercise Healthcare Solutions director and ACE health coach. "It's also typically picked at maximal ripeness and immediately frozen to retain robust flavor," she says. Even better — frozen produce generally costs less than fresh produce. With the right planning, you can even freeze your own produce grown during summer months.
Do you have any tips on how you spot fresh produce or keep your produce fresh? Sound off in the comments below.
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