By Megan O'Connell, Student at UW – Platteville
Now that you’ve set your New Year's resolutions to start eating better, you’re probably having trouble determining which produce is the best to buy during the current season.
Sticking to those resolutions can be hard enough, so I’ve come up with some tips to keep you on track while parading around the aisles of your local markets. Whether you prefer shopping in the grocery store or at local farmers markets, I’ve got some advice on how to pick the freshest fruits and vegetables of the season.
There’s no better way to eat fresh and support your local community than to shop at farmers markets. Even though you only have a few days of winter break left and you haven’t even glanced at your winter break laundry pile or caught up with season five of Gossip Girl, there’s still a very easy way to locate a local farmers market. There’s even an app for that. The Lovefre.sh smartphone app allows you to discover the local produce around you. Another great app, Farmers Market Finder, helps locate farmers markets near you.
When you’re shopping at your local grocery store, you’ll be tempted to jump in and buy all the that wonderful and fresh-looking produce. Don’t be fooled — you need to consider the chances that that fresh, plump tomato was actually grown thousands of miles away. Only after being processed and chemically ripened is it offered to you in the grocery store.
Before you head to the grocery store, you’ll need to do a little research to determine what’s in season in your local and surrounding areas. Visit Epicurious, which offers a map of the United States that tells you what produce is in season by rolling your mouse over an area. This allows you to make wise decisions when at the grocery store.
You live in Nevada where the growing season is currently dormant? Oh well, those oranges in your local grocery store that were shipped from Arizona are probably a safe bet. Most fruits and vegetables will have labels to let you know where said fruit or vegetable is from. If not, don’t be shy, ask someone in the produce department to find out for you.
Live in a cold area where literally nothing grows this time of the year? Chances are, with a little asking around, you can find a locally-owned market that has canned and frozen produce from when it was in season. Still not having luck? Plan ahead to plant your own goodies during the growing season so you can freeze and can them yourself!
Use this information to help you stick to that goal of eating better this year. The better you eat, the better you feel, the happier you’ll be.
Image: lobster20 / FreeDigitalPhotos.net