Meatless Monday: Picking Your Veggies

We've posted this before, but it's very relevant now that all the gardens are popping with fresh spring and summer veggies. It's time to figure out where you should be shopping and what you should be eating, right?

Everyone always says fresh is best when it comes to most food - especially fruits and veggies. But is it? This is a much debated topic and I thought I'd share my perspective. Not saying my opinions are scientifically accurate ... they're simply the rules I try to live by.

  • Buy local. Fruits and veggies are always best if you can buy them at your local farmer's market or if they come from your backyard. You know where they've come from and how far they've traveled. Strawberries from a farm 10 miles away are much better than berries shipped in from Costa Rica (you can assume they're at least a few days off the vine by the time they make it to your grocery). And you're being much friendlier to the environment by buying locally.

  • Buy fresh, seasonal at the grocery. It's simple, eat corn on the cob in July, not December. Seasonal items are going to be grown more 'naturally' resulting in much better taste and much lower prices!

  • Buy frozen. If something isn't in season and you've just got to have it, i.e. corn on the cob, buy frozen. Many times frozen fruits and veggies are fresher than the "fresh" produce because they're picked, processed and immediately frozen - many times within the same day. Whereas "fresh" produce is picked, sits in a warehouse, is shipped to your grocery, sits in the storeroom and then is placed out in the produce bins (and sometimes it might sit there for a few days, too). Frozen is fresh, healthy and won't easily go bad so it's simple to always have something on hand and easy to eat your veggies!

  • (Avoid) Canned. This is usually my last resort. I've found that canned fruits and veggies are usually mushy and LOADED with salt, sugar and preservatives. However, in a pinch they're always good to have on hand! We typically have black beans and tomatoes on hand, but I tend to be very cautious about anything beyond that. Sorry canned veggies!

So there you have it. My unofficial fruit and veggie rules. What are your preferences and how do you buy your fruits and veggies?

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