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Produce power! What to buy and what to avoid

Christy Pogorelac is a marketing manager and freelance writer who likes to cover topics like entertaining, nutrition, fitness and lifestyle. Along with writing, her favorite past-times include date nights with her husband, jogging in the...

How to navigate the produce aisle

All fruits and vegetables found in the produce aisle are not created equal, especially when it comes to choosing the healthiest and most fresh options. In fact, after extended transport times and excessive handling, some of the foods you find in the produce aisle are best left behind. Here are a few grocery guidelines to help you choose the very best produce that your local store has to offer.

Woman shopping for organic produce

1Go organic

Go organic when buying peaches, apples, bell peppers, celery, nectarines, strawberries, cherries, pears, imported grapes, spinach, lettuce and potatoes. Often referred to as The Dirty Dozen, the Environmental Working Group has found that these produce items typically carry the highest levels of pesticides -- even after washing and peeling at home. Look for produce that is 100% organic when purchasing these items.

2

Save your money...

Save your money by purchasing non-organic eggplant, frozen corn, frozen peas, broccoli, bananas, asparagus, papaya, cabbage, watermelon, sweet potato, mango, onions, tomato, pineapple and avocado. These fruits and vegetables have been found to contain the least amount of pesticide residues.

3Buy local

Look for locally-grown produce for the highest nutrient content. Allowed to actually ripen on the vine, these fruits and veggies reach their full potential in producing the vitamins and minerals that we love them for.

4Be selective

Get choosy when picking up produce. Look for fruits and vegetables that are bright and smell fresh when you are making your produce selections. It is also important to watch out for signs of spoilage, like mold.

5Be gentle

Bruising can occur on produce when it is over-handled, thumped and bumped. On top of being unsightly, bruising is a breeding ground for bacteria.

6Fresh vs. frozen

Sometimes buying produce fresh is not always best. Fruits and vegetables that are shipped from exotic locations far away from your local grocery store often arrive with three big issues. First, they are typically picked before they are ripe and are not given the chance to meet their full nutritional potential. Secondly, the nutrients that are developed may degrade during transport. Third, all of that transport leads to higher prices. So if the fruits and vegetables on your list are out of season, buy frozen. You'll save money and may get a higher nutrient.

Up next: Know what's in season >>

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