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The Facts About Local Produce

๐™‡๐™ค๐™˜๐™–๐™ก, ๐™จ๐™š๐™–๐™จ๐™ค๐™ฃ๐™–๐™ก ๐™›๐™ง๐™ช๐™ž๐™ฉ๐™จ ๐™–๐™ฃ๐™™ ๐™ซ๐™š๐™œ๐™š๐™ฉ๐™–๐™—๐™ก๐™š๐™จ ๐™–๐™ง๐™š ๐™œ๐™ค๐™ค๐™™ ๐™ค๐™ฅ๐™ฉ๐™ž๐™ค๐™ฃ๐™จ, ๐™—๐™ช๐™ฉ ๐™ค๐™ฉ๐™๐™š๐™ง ๐™ฉ๐™ฎ๐™ฅ๐™š๐™จ ๐™ค๐™› ๐™ฅ๐™ง๐™ค๐™™๐™ช๐™˜๐™š ๐™–๐™ง๐™š ๐™š๐™ญ๐™˜๐™š๐™ก๐™ก๐™š๐™ฃ๐™ฉ ๐™˜๐™๐™ค๐™ž๐™˜๐™š๐™จ ๐™ฉ๐™ค๐™ค.

Local and seasonal produce, at farm stands or supermarkets, may be more flavorful and support the local economy, but itโ€™s not necessarily more nutritious.

Throughout the summer and fall, farm stands display locally-grown fruits and vegetables, and supermarkets offer fresh seasonal produce, along with organic, conventional, imported, and frozen selections. Understanding the variables associated with these options may make deciding what to buy a little easier.

Keeping it Close to Home? Locally grown, seasonal produce, whether sold at farm stands, farmers markets, or the local grocer, can be an attractive option. Buying local cuts down on the environmental impact of transportation, and may put money into the local economy, but it does not necessarily impact nutrition. Fruits and vegetables are often picked before they reach peak ripenessโ€”while they are firmer and less likely to be damaged or rot during shipping. Since it doesnโ€™t have to travel far, locally-grown, seasonal produce is often allowed to ripen more fully, which is a big plus for both quality and flavor. Ripeness can impact nutritional value as well, but this doesnโ€™t mean local produce is necessarily more nutritious. โ€œMany factors influence nutrient content, including seed variety, soil, and elevation,โ€ says Alice H. Lichtenstein, DSc, director and senior scientist at Tuftsโ€™ Cardiovascular Nutrition Laboratory, and executive editor of Tufts Health & Nutrition Letter. โ€œFruits and vegetables can lose nutrients as they sit in transit or on display, particularly if not refrigerated, such as on a farm-stand table.โ€

Farm stands are not the only place to find local, seasonal options. โ€œMany supermarkets carry local produce, and there are plenty of seasonal choices,โ€ says Lichtenstein. โ€œProduce in supermarkets is temperature controlled, and usually fresh because turnover rates are managed. Seasonal produce at supermarkets is also generally quite affordable.โ€

๐—ข๐—ฟ๐—ด๐—ฎ๐—ป๐—ถ๐—ฐ ๐—ข๐—ฝ๐˜๐—ถ๐—ผ๐—ป๐˜€:ย Itโ€™s important to understand that not all local food is organic, nor is all organic food local. Some people seek out organic products to avoid potential health and environmental effects of agricultural chemicals, but organics do not have a proven nutritional edge over conventional produce. Organic products are, as a general rule, more expensive than conventional, a factor to consider when making grocery-purchasing decisions. โ€œPeople who eat more fruits and vegetables have better health outcomes, regardless of whether they choose organic or conventional,โ€ says Lichtenstein.

๐—™๐—ผ๐—ฟ๐—ฎ๐—ด๐—ถ๐—ป๐—ด ๐—ถ๐—ป ๐˜๐—ต๐—ฒ ๐—™๐—ฟ๐—ฒ๐—ฒ๐˜‡๐—ฒ๐—ฟ:ย Local produce bought directly from the farmer, or even from a supermarket, is not always an option. โ€œFrozen produce is an excellent choice because todayโ€™s flash freezing technology is used to freeze fruits and vegetables that are picked at peak ripeness,โ€ says Lichtenstein. โ€œNutrient content is preserved in freezing, and nutrient loss is slowed.โ€ While fresh produce can spoil within just a few days, leading to wasted food and wasted money, frozen food can keep for months while maintaining nutritional quality and, importantly, flavor. Canned and dried fruits and vegetables are also generally good choices, but compare Nutrition Facts labels to choose brands with the least sodium and added sugars.

๐—ง๐—”๐—ž๐—˜ ๐—–๐—›๐—”๐—ฅ๐—š๐—˜!

Donโ€™t let the number of choices make produce purchasing confusing. Follow these tips to up consumption of these health-promoting foods:

-๐—˜๐—ฎ๐˜ ๐—บ๐—ผ๐—ฟ๐—ฒ ๐—ณ๐—ฟ๐˜‚๐—ถ๐˜๐˜€ ๐—ฎ๐—ป๐—ฑ ๐˜ƒ๐—ฒ๐—ด๐—ฒ๐˜๐—ฎ๐—ฏ๐—น๐—ฒ๐˜€โ€ฆ๐—ผ๐—ณ ๐—ฎ๐—ป๐˜† ๐—ธ๐—ถ๐—ป๐—ฑ.ย Local and imported, fresh and frozen, organic and conventional are all good choices.

-๐—จ๐˜€๐—ฒ ๐—ณ๐—ฟ๐—ฒ๐˜€๐—ต ๐˜ƒ๐—ฒ๐—ด๐—ฒ๐˜๐—ฎ๐—ฏ๐—น๐—ฒ๐˜€ ๐˜€๐—ผ๐—ผ๐—ป ๐—ฎ๐—ณ๐˜๐—ฒ๐—ฟ ๐—ฝ๐˜‚๐—ฟ๐—ฐ๐—ต๐—ฎ๐˜€๐—ถ๐—ป๐—ด ๐˜๐—ผ ๐—บ๐—ฎ๐˜…๐—ถ๐—บ๐—ถ๐˜‡๐—ฒ ๐—ป๐˜‚๐˜๐—ฟ๐—ถ๐—ฒ๐—ป๐˜ ๐—ฐ๐—ผ๐—ป๐˜๐—ฒ๐—ป๐˜ ๐—ฎ๐—ป๐—ฑ ๐—ฝ๐—ฟ๐—ฒ๐˜ƒ๐—ฒ๐—ป๐˜ ๐˜€๐—ฝ๐—ผ๐—ถ๐—น๐—ฎ๐—ด๐—ฒ.ย Delicate foods like berries and greens will spoil more quickly. Produce with harder skin, such as carrots, cabbage, and apples, are more durable and last longer at home. Planning can help minimize food waste.

-๐—–๐—ต๐—ถ๐—น๐—น.ย Produce ripens more quickly when left at room temperature, but, once ripe, getting most types into a refrigerator (or freezer) can help preserve nutrients. A recent study published in the Journal of Food Science and Technology focusing on blueberries found that phytochemical content could be largely preserved by low temperature storage (in a refrigerator or freezer). Some produce, however, such as tomatoes and bananas, are better left at room temperature, according to the Produce for Better Health Foundation.

-๐—ฅ๐—ถ๐—ป๐˜€๐—ฒ (๐—ท๐˜‚๐˜€๐˜ ๐—ฎ๐—ฏ๐—ผ๐˜‚๐˜) ๐—ฒ๐˜ƒ๐—ฒ๐—ฟ๐˜†๐˜๐—ต๐—ถ๐—ป๐—ด.ย All produce should be rinsed with clean water before use to reduce risk of foodborne disease and remove pesticide residue. Hard produce can be scrubbed with a brush. Soap and special washes are not recommended. The only exception is pre-washed, bagged, greens, which the CDC recommends not be washed at home.

-๐—ž๐—ฒ๐—ฒ๐—ฝ ๐—ฎ ๐—ณ๐—ฟ๐˜‚๐—ถ๐˜ ๐—ฏ๐—ผ๐˜„๐—น.ย Having a bowl of fruit visible encourages more fruit intake, but can also lead to waste if the fruit spoils. Try having just a couple pieces of each type of fruit out at any one time (depending on your household size). This can help avoid over-ripening and food waste.

-๐——๐—ผ๐—ปโ€™๐˜ ๐—ณ๐—ผ๐—ฟ๐—ด๐—ฒ๐˜ ๐—ณ๐—ฟ๐—ผ๐˜‡๐—ฒ๐—ป.ย Pre-packaged frozen vegetables and fruits are at least as nutritious as fresh, and often less expensive, and they are available year-round.

Source:ย Tufts Health & Nutrition Letter, Oct. 2018

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