Today, Americans and the U.S. government are realizing the importance of fruits and vegetables being the center of a nutritious diet. It is now more apparent that a colorful diet, rich in fruits and vegetables supports many of the needed vitamins and minerals for a healthy body.
Dr. William H. Dietz, director of CDC′s Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Obesity, said “a diet high in fruits and vegetables is important for optimal child growth, maintaining a healthy weight, and prevention of chronic diseases such as diabetes, heart disease and some cancers…”
In 2011, the USDA launched the ChooseMyPlate.gov project, showing fruits and vegetables taking up half of the plate, grains taking up a quarter of the plate and meat taking an even smaller quarter than that.
According to a report by MarketLine, the consumption of produce is going to do nothing but increase over the next few years. The global fruit and vegetable market expanded significantly in 2011, to meet a value of $1,517.3 billion, an 11.7 percent increase. A whopping 79.2 percent increase in value, $2,719 billion, is predicted to manifest in the global fruit and vegetable market by 2016.
Realistically, everyone wants to be able to purchase the most crisp fruits and vegetables possible. However, this is not the case for many Americans, including Brielle Logan, an alumni of Rollins College.
“I bought a bag of peaches last Thursday and by Monday they were all brown on the inside. I didn’t even know. I bit into one and spit it right back out.”
Logan was able to take the spoiled fruit back to the store for a store credit. For many, the peaches would have found their way into a plastic bag being heaved into the dumpster.
A 2012 report by the NRDC, a nonprofit environmental organization, showed that Americans throw away nearly half of the food they have. This adds up to almost $165 billion every year. The report said that annually, 40 percent of the food supply is discarded, an equivalent to $2,275 in food each year.
Additionally, the report approximates that the average food store throws out about $2,300 worth of food each day because the products are too close to the expiration date.
In an interview with John Hyde, a store director for a major supermarket chain, he said on average he gets about “1 to 2 complaints a month,” either about freshness of the produce or availability. Hyde also said that his store is ranked at 65 percent, which is three percent above the national average.
When asked, Target and Walmart declined to interview or comment on their produce section.
So what can be done to ensure freshness?
1. Try Organic Food
Readily available, organic foods are available at many stores including Whole Foods and Trader Joes.
In a study conducted by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), they tested 1398 domestic food samples for pesticides. The FDA found that 64.2 percent of samples had no pesticides residue, 34.9 percent of samples contained pesticide residue, and 0.9 percent of samples that were tested contained “violative” materials.
2. Check Inspection Records
There are many public records available on the Internet. Checking to see what your local grocery store was rated on a recent inspection may save time and money. For Orange County, Florida’s inspection records, only one grocery store on the list had a poor rating.
Also, check your local restaurant’s inspection ratings to ensure the freshness of food when dining out. Here are the inspection records for restaurants in Central Florida.
3. Buy Produce In-Season
To ensure maximum freshness, purchase your fruits and vegetables in-season, month-to-month. For April, in-season produce includes zucchini, rhubarb, artichokes, asparagus, spring peas, broccoli, lettuce, pineapples and mangoes.
Here are some more links for in-season fruits and vegetables: