Smart Shopping: Fruits and Vegetables

Besides being delicious to eat, fruits and vegetables have many health benefits. They are low in calories and high in vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals such as isoflavones and beta-carotene.  Eating a diet full of fruits and vegetables may help reduce the risk of heart disease, high blood pressure and some types of cancers. In addition, fiber–rich fruits and vegetables such as bananas and broccoli can fill you up so that you stay fuller longer. It is possible to fit vegetables and fruits into any budget. Here are some low-cost ways to meet your daily fruit and vegetable intake.

1. Buy in Season

Choose and use fresh vegetables and fruits that are in season. Buying in season is easy to get when you buy locally.  In season local produce has more flavor and is usually less expensive. Fruits and vegetables that are shipped lose flavor because they are harvested early and refrigerated to prevent rotting.  Your local farmer’s market or community garden is a great source of seasonal produce because it is usually cheaper and healthier with pesticide-free and no preservatives options.

The Pacific Coast Farmers’ Market Association (website with a list of farmers’ markets in the San Francisco Bay Area) http://www.pcfma.com

2. Look for Sales

Buy produce on sale. If there are special deals on fruits and vegetables, for example buy one get one free, grab them, excess can be frozen for later.  Sale items disappear quickly, so shop early to take advantage of any specials!  Keep in mind that produce sales may be based on surplus, so check the date and freshness before you buy.

3. Grow Your Own Food

Start a garden—in your yard or in containers on a deck—for fresh, inexpensive, produce. Herbs, greens or tomatoes are good options for beginners. Visit your local library or search online for more information on starting a garden.  GoodFoodMama will be starting a series of how-to’s on growing your own food in September.

4. Low-Cost Options

Certain fruits and vegetables are typically low-cost options because they are available all year round. For vegetables, buy carrots, greens, or potatoes.  For fruits, apples and bananas
are good choices.

How do you shop smart while still keeping your refrigerator full of fruits and vegetables?

What do you think?