Planning on buying fruits and vegetables? If you don't know what to buy or even how to preserve them, this fruit and vegetable buying guide can help.
Eating lots of fruits or vegetables with your diet is one sure way to lead a healthier lifestyle, for starters they both provide your body with the necessary vitamins, minerals, and fiber needed to keep it healthy and in top shape. This is why, when buying these types of produce, you need to get them for a good quality, fresh, and safe for consumption.
To put it more simply, if you don't make the right choices when buying them you could end up with produce you would not like, and we can assure you that there is nothing more annoying than slicing into a pale watermelon that looked good on the outside or bringing home a carton of fruits that go bad by the next morning.
In this guide we discuss everything you need to know about buying fruits and vegetables, especially online. Some topics we touch include, tips for choosing the best fruits and vegetables which at their peak freshness to get the tastiest flavor and nutritional value from them and avoiding produce that could make you sick because they may be prone to pathogens like salmonella, listeria, shigella, entamoeba histolytica, gastrointestinal viruses, ascaris spp, and monocytogenes.
We cover everything that could make your next visit to the fruit market as stress-free as possible. By conveying information that assists you in buying the most common fruits and vegetables, making your produce last, and choosing the healthiest type of fruit and vegetables.
- What are fruits and vegetables?
- Why eat them
- How to buy them online
- How to preserve them
What Are Fruits And Vegetables?
Although these two foods usually go hand-in-hand, both come from plants and form necessary parts of human and animal diets, fruits and vegetables are still two completely different things.
Fruits are the fleshy and sweet or sour part of a tree or other plants that contain seed. Examples of fruits are - orange, avocado, mango, pineapple, banana, strawberry, etc.
Vegetables on the other hand are the leafy or herbaceous plants that typically consist of roots, stems and leaves. A vegetable could be pumpkin, broccoli, egg plant, spinach, lettuce, cucumber, etc.
Why Eat Them?
It is no argument that a fruit and vegetable rich diet, can work wonders for your health and significantly reduce your risk of, if not protect you from certain illnesses like heart disease, stroke, cancer, eye problem and digestive issues. Furthermore, they help keep your blood sugar and appetite in check.
Fruits and vegetables are a fantastic source of minerals and vitamins and contain nutrients like vitamin C, folate, and potassium. Plus their fibrous nature promotes a healthy gut health, prevents constipation, and reduces the risk of bowel cancer.
If you have the time, here are 10 other reasons why you should eat fruits and vegetables.
Top 10 Reasons to Eat Fruits and Vegetables Today:
- They Are A Great Source Of Vitamins And Minerals
- Lots Of Flavor To Choose From
- Highly Fibrous
- Low In Calories And Fat
- Protects Against Disease
- Maintains Good Health And Weight
- Low Cholesterol And Sodium Level
- It Is Nutritious No Matter How Served
- Easy To Prep
- Smoothies And Salads
1: They Are A Great Source Of Vitamins And Minerals
Fruits and vegetables are the ultimate source of vitamins and minerals, and no other food type comes close in terms of nutritional value.
They are filled with vitamins A, C, and E and feature other key nutrients too like folic acid, magnesium, zinc, and phosphorus.
Avocados, sweet potatoes, bananas, prunes, and tomatoes especially, are a great source of potassium.
2: Lots Of Flavor To Choose From
One thing that can't be said about fruits and vegetables is that they are boring, and even if there was such a notion it is simply not true. Fruits and veggies come in different sizes, textures, colors, and flavors that could make for one interesting fruit bowl should you intend to pair them together.
And since they are all unique in the way they taste, you can try a lot of recipes in the kitchen while experimenting with lots of flavors. Strong flavors like onions, ginger, and pepper, mild ones like mushrooms, sour flavors like strawberry, lime and lemon, or even sweet flavors like pineapple, apple, paw-paw, or banana.
3: Highly Fibrous
In case you didn't know, the fact that fruits and vegetables contain fiber, should be the reason why these foods should make it into your plate. Fiber satisfies you quicker and increases your gut health. Highly fibrous fruits to sneak into your diet include apples, pears, and pumpkin.
4: Low In Calories And Fat
With fruits and vegetables, you still get the required calories and fat for your body, but this time you get them in a healthy manner. You can eat more fruits and veggies without worrying about gaining extra weight, because they are low in fats and calories.
That being said, some fruits (we won't mention names) are actually high in calories and fats and you should always research to know which ones defeat the purpose of this point.
5: Protects Against Disease
In their own way, fruits and vegetables (yes! They are a package deal) are medicine for the human body. Many of them fight off cancer and other illnesses, and contain phytochemicals which are biologically active substances that protect you against some diseases.
These foods can curb your risk of illnesses like type 2 diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke, and cancer. Matter of fact, cruciferous vegetables like broccoli and cabbage might take some credit for reducing the risk of cancer.
6: Maintains Good Health And Weight
Many fitness enthusiasts and trainers will encourage you to eat your fruits and veggies because they know how important it is to your overall health. These two foods are low in saturated fat, salt, and sugar, and are also part of a well-balanced diet for losing weight or maintaining your current weight.
They also lower inflammation, cholesterol level, and blood pressure.
7: Low Cholesterol And Sodium Level
At this rate, fresh fruits and vegetables are leaning towards being the only meal you could eat without getting into trouble. We only say this because they contain low amounts of sodium and cholesterol which are two ingredients people avoid for their health. On the other hand, fruits supposedly don't have any cholesterol at all, so you can munch away.
8: It Is Nutritious No Matter How Served
Whether you like your fruits and vegetables fresh, frozen, canned, or dried, you still get nutritional value from all of them, as there is not much difference in nutrition when they are compared. Many frozen or canned products are processed hours after they are harvested so that the nutrients are quickly locked in.
9: Easy To Prep
Most fruits and vegetables do not need to be packaged or over-prepped like most foods, so you can simply grab a piece or two (or more) as you're dashing off to work or school to get your daily serving of nutrition.
10: Smoothies And Salads
Another very good reason you should eat fruits and veggies is that you could use them to make a delicious smoothie for your morning workouts or a healthy bowl of salad and chicken for your afternoon meal. The point is you could make other nutritious foods from these two produce, so you're getting a balanced and filling no-cook meal from them.
How To Buy Fruits: Shopping Guide
So, you want to buy fruits and vegetables online, are you sure you have the correct knowledge on how to do this? We can help.
There are some factors to consider when buying fresh produce online through a website or an app, as opposed to going to the store to pick them up by yourself. These factors are variety, procurement and processing.
This section offers some advice for shopping your beloved fruits and veggies online while assisting you on preventing food safety concerns and upgrading your list so that you get something more nutritional and pocket-friendly.
1: Buy Early
When buying perishable produce like fruits or vegetables, it is important that you order early, so that you can buy what you want at a time when the stock displayed is fresh and just arrived from the farm. Doing this reduces your chances of buying stale produce.
2: Buy Seasonally
Most fruits and vegetables are seasonal, which means they won't be available all-year round. Due to this scarcity, retailers suffer delivery fees which they consumers will pay for via a high cost of goods.
You shouldn't buy these foods in their off-season, because they will be over priced and of low quality. Buying fruits and veggies when they are in season means you'll get good quality products from the online grocery store.
3: Don't Buy Frozen Or Preserved Produce Online
While they are still nutritious, it isn't smart to buy canned or frozen vegetables and fruits online, because there is a chance it isn't as fresh and would have lost its original nutrients from being on display for too long without buyers. Such foods can even be stale and expired.
When buying online, buy fruits and veggies as per weights.
4: Always Scale The Produce
Most online grocery stores offer the option to weigh or scale the produce, do it. This is because weighted produce is cheaper in price and best quality too. If you buy them canned or packaged, it will be costly and less in quantity.
5: Compare Prices Across Products
Ensure that you compare the prices between fresh and packaged products. Purchasing loose, single-unit produce is a cheaper and better option than packed products. And by picking out what you want yourself, you stand a chance of selecting higher-quality fruits and vegetables.
6: Don't Shop Based On Colors Or Looks
It is easy for you to get attracted to colorful and aesthetically pleasing fruits when you see them online, but it would be better if you didn't base your decision off of these qualities. Ignoring the look when buying fruits and vegetables from an online store might do you some good because the pictures displayed may look completely different in real-life.
It may look good on the outside, and rotten on the inside. And if you buy based on looks or colors instead of actual quality, you could end up with bags of stale fruits and vegetables.
7: Try To Curb Weekend Fruit Shopping
Most deliveries happen early in the week, so do many of the discounts which are available on Tuesday or Wednesday.
On weekends, you battle with traffic on online stores which can be a breeding ground for dissatisfaction and stress. If you can, take some time out to buy within the week and shop from the farmer's market section if it is available.
8: Purchase Organic
Always buying fruits and vegetables from the organic produce section is something that could really help your produce shopping.
That being said, there are different categories and sections in an online store where you can buy produce from, but the organic product section is the best because it gives you healthy and high-quality options to shop from.
9: Use A List And Stick To It
It is smart to buy fruits and vegetables following the list and requirements you prepared, and to never add any extra items to it. This is because organic products such as these are perishable and have a time-frame in which they should be consumed within or they would as you already know go bad.
No need to buy in bulk when you know you won't consume them on time.
10: Don't Buy From The Discount Section
Yes, discounts are fantastic and shave off some money from your total, but you shouldn't buy perishable produce from the discount section of an online store. This is because produce gets stale and damaged easily when they are not consumed on time.
So, if they are sold at a discounted section, then they might not be fresh or in good quality, because the store might just want to sell them off immediately. Always buy from the fresh section.
How To Preserve Fruits
Correctly storing the fruits and vegetables you've just purchased, doesn't just help them taste better, but it extends their lives too. You could be one wrong step away from ruining those produce you painstakingly took time to pick from the store.
Here's how to preserve them:
- Refrigerate fruits that don't keep ripening after they've been picked - these include cherries, lychees, citrus, and rambutans.
- Leave fruits that ripen after picking on the counter if they are under ripe- Avocados, tomatoes, melons (except watermelon, peaches, and paw-paw). When they are ripe, take them to the fridge to slow the ripening.
- Leafy vegetables and herbs like spinach, pumpkin, lettuce, broccoli, should be stored in lidded containers, plastic bags that can be resealed, or produce bags padded with paper towel for soaking up the extra moisture. Change out the paper if it gets too wet.
- Use a damp paper towel for woody vegetables like rosemary and thyme to prevent dryness. Store them in a bag in the crisper drawer of the fridge.
- Leafy herbs such as mint and cilantro are best stored standing in water (like flower stalks in a vase), covered loosely with a plastic bag. Asparagus should be stored the same way.
- If you have basil no matter what type, put them in a jar of water and keep beside the sink. The coldness of your fridge can damage them. The water should be changed daily.
- Berries are best stored in a container lined with paper towels and covered loosely. Place them in front of the fridge away from the intense coldness of the fridge.
- Mushrooms should be put in a plastic bag, if left open they can produce ethylene which can cause it to over ripen other produce.
- Irish potatoes, sweet potatoes are best stored in a cool dark cupboard or pantry, and never your fridge.
- Vegetables like carrots and beets should be kept in your refrigerator's crisper drawer in an open resealable or reusable bag specially made for produce.
- Cucumber, bitter melon, zucchini or other summer squashes are best refrigerated in a sealed plastic bag.
- Corns are freshly preserved in their husks. Cobs without husks should be put in a slightly damp paper bag in a plastic bag and kept in the crisper. The moisture will stop them from drying out.
- You can store your tomatoes in the fridge to slow down their ripening and prolong their life span. They can be served at a temperature you prefer.
Conclusion: Ground Rules For Fruits And Vegetable Buying
Before you run off to start making your produce purchase, let’s quickly go over some ground rules for buying fruits and vegetables. Pay attention:
- Avoid buying bruised and damaged produce as they are a good breeding and hiding place for bacteria to hide and spread to the rest of the fruit. It is also unhealthy and less nutritious.
- Wash all produce, but not at once. No need to wash every fruit and vegetable immediately you buy them, instead doing so before eating preserves freshness and lifespan.
- Keep fresh fruits and vegetables separate from items like meat, poultry, and seafood. The blood and fluid from raw animal stock has pathogens that could contaminate the produce.