To remain in good physical and mental health it is recommended that everyone consume a diet rich in fruits and vegetables. They’re packed with vitamins, nutrients, and minerals the body needs to ward off diseases like heart disease, stroke, and cancer. As great as raw fruits and veggies are for your diet and health, not all produce is safe.
To preserve produce farmers often use pesticides and other chemicals. Not to mention, there’s always the possibility of germs like listeria, e.coli, and salmonella being present which could get you and your family very sick. To avoid this, or at least reduce the risk of this happening to you, here are some food safety tips when shopping for raw produce.
Purchase Locally Grown Produce
The further produce has to travel to be sold the heavier the use of chemicals and other preservation methods that aren’t always good for you. Buying fruits and vegetables that have been locally grown are a lot safer. You can generally find such produce at a nearby farmer’s market or small grocery stores. Beyond the factor of supporting nearby businesses, you should also want to eat what fruit grows best in your climate. Perhaps there is no such thing as a locally grown avocado where you live because of climate, you can buy that type of imported produce at the store. However, if you live in, say Florida, you can definitely support local farmers and the best-growing fruit of your own hometown climate.
If you don’t have many options for purchasing locally grown produce, be sure that you do a bit of research on a brand to determine how it’s preserved, manufactured, and shipped. You can usually find more information imprinted on the stickers found on the fruits or vegetables. If it states it’s from Mexico, for example, it would be best to look into Mexico manufacturing information to find out their policies and procedures for importing produce to the US.
Watch Out For Dents and Bruises
When shopping for raw fruits and vegetables, pay attention to the appearance, as it can be very revealing. Though not every piece of fruit or vegetable will be perfect, keep a look out for damaged, discolored, bruised, or moldy products. If something is moldy or has wormholes, you must avoid it and maybe say something to a store employee.
However, bruised or dented fruit can still be fine to eat. If you cut off that area of the fruit to feel better about how it looks then you should. Another solution is to use any bruised fruit you have in your kitchen, or maybe that you can buy at a discount, for making jam, juicing, or even pies and baked goods. As long as the fruit is just bruised and not contaminated there should be no safety threat.
Never Purchase Warm Pre-Cut Produce
Grocery stores often try to provide convenience to customers by cutting and packaging some of the fruits and vegetables. Once they have been cut, however, there’s an increased possibility that they could be contaminated with germs and bacteria. Therefore, you should only buy pre-cut produce if it is properly sealed and refrigerated.
Keep Produce and Meats Separate
If you happen to have meats, poultry, or seafood in your cart, be sure that you don’t put your fresh fruits and vegetables too close. The bacteria from these meats could easily be transferred onto the raw produce without your knowledge putting you and your family at risk for foodborne illnesses.
Know the Signs
Unfortunately, even with all these precautions millions of people fall victim to foodborne illnesses. If you consume even a small portion of raw produce that has been contaminated with bacteria, you could feel the effects later. Some may feel symptoms within 20 minutes while others could take days or even weeks to show signs. The good news is, however, that many people overcome foodborne illness within a few days with lots of rest and fluids.
There are instances in which it doesn’t resolve on its own and can be severe or life-threatening if not treated. If you experience diarrhea, vomiting, abdominal pain, or flu-like symptoms for more than a few days it is best to contact a doctor.
Fruits and vegetables are some of the most nutritious things you can eat to sustain good health. Be that as it may, the increased use of pesticides and other chemicals along with foodborne bacteria, the risk of getting sick are high. That’s why it is imperative to be mindful when shopping for produce. Hopefully, the tips above will help to keep yourself and your loved ones safe, happy, and healthy.