National Fresh Fruit & Vegetable MonthPublished 4:14pm Wednesday, June 4, 2014
By Dawn Vosbein, RD Family & Consumer Science Agent MSU Extension Service
Eating fruits and vegetables is a great way to get the most nutrition out of your calories. They are packed with vitamins, minerals, fiber, and other nutrients. June is a great time to consider whether you’re getting enough fruits and vegetables. Choosing fresh produce that is in season will help ensure the best tasting and highest quality produce. Proper food storage helps maintain food quality by retaining flavor, color, texture and nutrients while reducing the chance of contacting foodborne illness.
Fruits and Vegetables – Selection and storage
— Select produce in season. Examples of produce in season during the summer include bell peppers, blueberries, cantaloupe, corn, cucumbers, grapes, peaches, strawberries, watermelon and zucchini. Fall produce includes broccoli, cauliflower, cranberries, pears, pumpkin, sweet potatoes and turnips. During winter look for dates, kiwi, Brussels sprouts, oranges, tangerines, kale and squash. Produce in spring includes apricots, artichokes, asparagus, mango, pineapple and snow peas.
— Buy fresh fruits and vegetables – When buying fresh produce, buy only what you will use within a few days. Purchase produce that is not bruised or damaged. When selecting pre-cut produce, such as half a watermelon or bagged salad greens, choose only those items that are refrigerated or surrounded by ice. Bag produce separately from meat, poultry and seafood products when taking them home from the store.
— Store produce safely – Storing fresh produce safely helps prevent food borne illness. Store perishable fresh fruits and vegetables in a clean refrigerator set to 40º F. Refrigerate peeled or pre-cut produce to maintain quality and safety. Wash produce thoroughly with clean, cool running water just before they are to be prepared or eaten. For produce with thick skin, wash with vegetable brush. Refrigerate all cut, peeled or cooked fruits and vegetables within two hours.
— Separate for safety – Keep fruits and vegetables that will be eaten raw separate from other foods such as raw meat, poultry or seafood and from kitchen utensils used for these products. Wash your hands before and after preparing food. To avoid cross contamination wash cutting boards, dishes, utensil and counter tops with soap and hot water between the preparation of raw meat, poultry and seafood and the preparation of produce that will not be cooked. Run plastic or other non-porous cutting boards through the dishwasher after use.
The potential benefits associated with eating more fruits and vegetables stack up quickly, and reducing your risk of certain chronic diseases is only the beginning.