GREENSBORO, NC -- You've heard don't judge a book by its cover. But what about don't judge a fruit by its skin? Modern Farmer says we shouldn't shop for produce solely based on appearances. They say most of the time, the produce is still good. Then there's the added bonus of saving money! Bruised fruit is more likely to be discounted, so you save in the long run!
But how do you tell what produce is good to eat and what's not? We asked Geissler Baker from the North Carolina Cooperative Extension to explain. She gave examples of certain produce.
Fresh peppers are glossy and smooth. Baker said, "For something like green peppers, see how glossy these are and smooth. This one is a little old and its very wrinkled, and so its kind of pliable. So I might buy this one on a discount rack and use it in a soup or a stew, but I would not use it probably on my salad, fresh salad, so think about the use of the produce as well."
For the potatoes, if they're wrinkled and bumpy, that's a sign they're starting to get old. They should be smooth and firm.
Baker said, "See how the neck bends on this crookneck squash? Well that's not why they call it crookneck. It's not supposed to bend, its supposed to be pretty. So this is on the way out. It's gonna start to mold soon too. So if you bought this, you would want to use it the same day."
Baker said as greens start to wilt, they start to decay quicker. So avoid buying lettuce or other greens that are already wilting.
Baker said the key to bananas is the skin's condition, not necessarily it's color. "With the brown bananas, as long as the skin is not split, these are a great buy, especially if you like to make smoothies or banana nut bread. Peel them, put them in an airtight bag, and put them in your freezer, and those will make some great smoothies for breakfast."
Baker emphasized that if you do buy bruised fruit, don't wait to use it. Be sure to use it within a day or two.
If you want to be sure you're eating fresh fruit, there are a couple ways to guarantee you get it. Number one: grow it yourself! Nothing's fresher than your own garden! But Baker shared that shopping at a local farmer's market is a close second. "Local produce is going to be as fresh as you can get it [...] Buy local. It supports our local farmers, and it also puts your money back into our local economy."