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How to tell if your food is fresh

To eat or not to eat? Keep your family healthy and happy by serving them fresh, delicious food. Here is how to tell when your favourite food is fresh.

If you’re like many of us, you troll the aisles at the supermarket, full of hope and promise that this shopping trip is going to be different. Yes, you fill the shopping cart with lots of healthy foods so you can make lots of delicious home-cooked meals. Of course, the problem lies in identifying which foods are in season and what’s the freshest offering on the shelves so you don’t turn sour-faced with one bite. Need some help? Follow this simple guide, and you’ll be delighting in delicious, fresh food all year-round.


As simple as it seems, sight, smell and touch are the surefire ways to make sure you are picking up something fresh and ready for use. Don’t buy without having a gentle squeeze, sniff and inspection!


  • Bananas: Should be bright yellow with some spotting. If they’re too soft or brown, leave them behind. If they are still slightly green, don’t worry; within a day or two they’ll be perfect for eating.
  • Berries: Examine the berries well, and smell them for a sweet freshness. They should be juicy, without markings. Keep an eye on pint containers. Often mould will develop on one or two at the bottom or middle and then spread quickly through the lot.
  • Melons: Should smell delicious and be firm. With melons, a darker spot indicates where they sat on the ground as they grew, and this spot will have the sweetest flesh. Avoid melons that have any trace of visible mould or lots of soft spots, which may indicate they are too old to enjoy.
  • Apples: Apples can ripen off the tree, so don’t be afraid of picking a firm one.
  • Oranges: Should be brightly coloured and sweet-smelling.
  • Avocados: The green skin turns to black as an avocado ripens, but a neat trick is to see if the little stalk pops out easily. If it doesn’t come out with a gentle flick, it’s not ready.


  • Root veggies (potatoes, turnips, etc.): These should be firm. Soft spots, limpness or sprouts are a no-no.
  • Pumpkins: The outside should be firm but smooth, and it should sound hollow if you knock on it gently.
  • Mushrooms: Plump is best. Stay away from ones that are soft, have wrinkly skin or feel slippery.
  • Salad greens: Pick the ones that are brightly coloured and blemish-free.
  • Onions: Look for firm onions that don’t have marks or little cracks in the first layer. Check under the first layer of onion skin for any patches of discolouration, as this will likely indicate a mouldy spot.


  • Chicken: Pick fresh chicken products that are odour-free and aren’t sitting in excess liquid.
  • Red meat: Should be red and firm. Stay away from meat that looks brownish and slippery.
  • Cold cuts: Go for cuts that have good colouring. Stay away from greyish, slippery meats.


There’s really only one rule to remember when buying seafood: It should smell like the ocean but not overly fishy, and it should be reasonably firm. Anything slippery or discoloured should not be touched.

More on healthy food

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