Four Tips on How to Buy Good Vegetables
It’s Sunday afternoon and you are at your local grocery store. You’ve made your shopping list, and think that you’re all set to grab what you need and get on with your day. What you fail to remember is how challenging it can be to buy good vegetables.
While wandering the aisles you find yourself getting confused as you peruse the peppers, glance at the greens, and turn over the tomatoes. In a market with so much choice, it’s often difficult to determine what veggies are better than others.
Here at FreshBox Farms, we know that no one wants to purchase food that’s covered in harsh chemicals or that will go bad in in a few short days. So, that’s why we’ve put together a brief list of Four Tips on How to Buy Good Vegetables, in order to clear up some of the mysteriousness of the produce section.
From shopping at the right store to getting the timing of your selections right, we’ve got you covered. The following are the four most important considerations we use to base our produce decisions on.
1. Find a grocer that you can trust
It may seem obvious, but the most valuable piece of advice that we have for buying good vegetables is to make sure that you are shopping at the right places. Ultimately, an amazing grocery store will value transparency and accessibility, and will have a dedication to local food.
Apart from the bare minimum amount of details that a retail location is required to provide, your store should go above and beyond to offer you information about the food on its shelves. To evaluate whether or not your store has your best interests in mind, look for signage that indicates where and when the food was harvested, clear display units that let you properly examine produce, and store employees that are knowledgeable and helpful about what’s fresh and seasonal. Above all, your store should also source locally, as much as possible, to ensure that its products are coming directly and quickly from producers.
Our grocery stores are the ones responsible for putting excellent produce in front of you. So, if you consistently find that your store’s offerings are lackluster, it might be worth considering a change. If you are ever in need of some suggestions, and are located in MA, stop by any of our partner locations and you will be glad that you did.
2. Consider the Labels
With so many stickers and numbers and logos plastered all over our produce, it can often be difficult to see the forest for the trees.
It’s important to note that labels are not always meant to be customer-facing, and are sometimes designed more for the sake of distributors or retailers than for the end consumer. Therefore, for the average grocery shopper, it can be quite the challenge to decipher what all of this information means. To gain some insight into what these labels actually tell us about our food, we can examine a couple of the different types.
First, we have the stickers that contain price-look-up (PLU) codes. These are the little ones that you may have accidentally eaten off of your apple. There is a bit of misinformation surrounding these stickers, with some shoppers believing that you should use them as a sure-fire way to learn about your food’s background. While it is true that they can indicate whether products were organically grown (five-digit code beginning with a 9) or conventionally grown (five-digit code beginning with 0 or a four-digit code), they are not reliable indicators of produce variety. This is because retailers may alter the codes depending on their pricing intentions. All things considered, it’s best to depend on other sources of information to guide your choices.
Our second point of consideration should be labels that make claims about the qualities of vegetables. For instance, labels like Organic, USDA Certified 100% Organic, Non-GMO Project Verified, etc., each has its own criteria for what determines eligible produce. The best course of action regarding this type of label is to determine what aspects of food production you care about, and to read up on what applicable labels tell you about produce.
At the end of the day, it’s up to the consumer to decide why those labels are personally important. At FreshBox Farms, we respect the value of information, and strive to produce the cleanest, most sustainable greens possible. If you ever have any questions about our clean growing techniques, take a look through our FAQs or feel free to ask us directly.
3. Use Your Senses
When you go to buy good vegetables it’s helpful to make use of your senses. Each variety of produce has its own “tells,” which aid you in determining whether or not that particular item will be good to eat. These signs include the shininess of the skin for products like eggplants and bell peppers, the smell and fragrance of tomatoes, and the firmness of avocados and beets.
Rather than list all of these indications here, because there are just so many, we will point you to some resources from the The Kitchn and Lifehacker, and will offer a quick overview of what to look for in leafy greens in particular.
While selecting your produce, it’s important to keep an eye out for dark green leaves with no wilting or discoloration. The leaves should also be smooth, crisp, and have a fresh smell – not one that suggests any developing rot. For products like Chard, look for deeply colorful stems. If you’re ever in doubt, you can always pick-up some FreshBox Farms greens. We grow wholesome, honest food and always provide a superior, longer lasting product.
Keep those senses alert the next time that you’re in the store and you will be well equipped to make a great decision.
4. Recognize Seasonality
No matter what you do while shopping, there will be some things that are simply beyond your control. One such aspect is the climate that your produce grows best in.
For example, if you live in the Northeast and it happens to be the middle of the winter, it’s unlikely that you will find fresh cucumbers that were grown locally. While you may be able to get a cuke in Boston in January, it will likely come from the other side of the country, be several days or even weeks old by the time you purchase it, and not have a very long lifespan before spoilage.
If you want to be certain that you are buying good vegetables, it is important to recognize that some varieties of local produce will only be available at specific times of the year.
However, let’s say you’re a New Englander and you DO want fresh greens while there’s snow on the ground (Because who wants week-old lettuce, yuck!). FreshBox Farms solves that dilemma for you by growing year round in our clean, controlled environment indoor farm. So, leave that spoiling California lettuce on the shelf.
The Thoughtful Choice
There is plenty of great produce out there, but it can be overwhelming to wade through all of the available options. Next time you go grocery shopping, use these four tips on how to buy good vegetables in order to speed up the process and take back your afternoon.
The biggest tip of all, though, is that FreshBox Farms has taken the guess work out of the lettuce aisle, just for you. Our greens are grown hyperlocal to their retail locations, arrive on shelves within 24 hours of harvest, never have any harmful chemicals or GMOs involved, and stay fresh for longer.