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produce fruits and vegetables

From a culinary standpoint, it doesn’t really make much difference whether a food is classified as fruit or vegetable; they both contribute immensely to an array of delicious nutritious diet plans.

Knowledge is power when it comes to storage – knowing the category of produce you have can speed its ripening. Storing green avocado next to ripe banana can speed the ripening process up quickly.

Seasonal

Picking seasonal foods can benefit your wallet, your taste buds and the planet in many ways. In-season produce grows naturally and locally without needing greenhouses or long distance transportation; they are more affordable than year-round staples like apples, bananas and carrots while their flavor has had time to fully develop on their plant.

Spring produce includes vibrant greens, colorful radishes and sweet, juicy strawberries. Artichokes also become available during this season – perfect additions to soup or sandwiches.

As temperatures heat up in summer, fresh produce such as strawberries, heirloom tomatoes, cucumbers and peppers abound at local grocers, farmers markets or roadside stands. Many of these items are even easy to cultivate in your own garden!

Fruit and vegetables that have been shipped across the globe often lose much of their freshness and flavor after arriving at your grocery store, even if they remain available year round. By eating seasonal produce you get to experience more flavors your body was designed to appreciate while benefiting from more nutritional food produced under ideal climate and weather conditions for that crop.

Shopping seasonally helps support local businesses, with farmers and grocers being able to offer lower prices when there is more product on hand as opposed to having to incur storage and transportation expenses. This keeps more money circulating within communities while potentially helping create jobs as a result.

Food availability varies significantly across regions due to differences in growing conditions and greenhouse usage as well as international shipping. Use this FoodPrint Seasonal Produce Guide (opens in new tab) to discover which fruits and vegetables are in season right now in your location, then plan meals around those. If you don’t have access to locally-grown seasonal food options, stock up when they are most affordable then freeze for later.

Color

Color can be an indicator of freshness and quality when shopping for produce at either a supermarket or produce shop. Most fruits and vegetables derive their vibrant hues from phytochemicals – natural plant pigments which give food its characteristic colors – also known as antioxidants that have healthful benefits on our bodies. Food colors can help inform us which vitamins, minerals and nutrients they contain; an assortment of colors from fruits and vegetables is the key to good health!

Phytochemicals can be found in every edible part of plants, from their skin or peel to their seeds and peel. They give carrots their vibrant orange hue, Brussels sprouts their bitter flavor and hot peppers their searing bite, while potentially helping lower cholesterol levels and preventing age-related eye disease. Color indicators provide insight into which type of phytochemicals a particular fruit or vegetable contains; red, yellow, orange and dark-green hues tend to have greater concentrations of phytochemicals than others.

Ripeness in fruits and vegetables can often be determined by their internal pulp color; however, most horticultural crops lack federal grade standards, and even those that do have some can differ widely in quality evaluations. Buyers and consumers use other criteria than color alone to judge produce’s quality.

Fruit and vegetable producers select their crop varieties based on internal pulp color, dry matter content, soluble sugars and firmness. Furthermore, they test for any signs of microbial contamination during storage; many climacteric fruits such as apples and bananas become discolored upon being exposed to rot or infection, while non-climacteric varieties like mangos and citrus slowly discolor from the center outwards.

Internal color is of vital importance when processing and packaging fresh-cut fruits and vegetables, since cutting exposes inner tissues to atmospheric oxygen, rapidly changing its hue. Furthermore, handling damage often causes discoloration; bruised food breaks down and releases oxidizing enzymes, leading to browning on its interior surfaces. A NIR spectrometer can assist with monitoring and maintaining internal colors of freshly-cut produce by measuring levels of oxidized pigments that contribute to its color.

Texture

Fruit and vegetable textures are highly dependent upon their growth stage of development, which determines both how it feels in your hand and mouth and its cooking method. Furthermore, changes to chemical and physiological characteristics post harvest may alter its texture in ways which either improve or compromise its quality.

Numerous types of fruits and vegetables grow on plants with different structures, from inhomogeneous berries and fleshy fruits to homogenous tubers and root vegetables. Furthermore, their structures may alter during their growing and ripening processes; for instance, tomatoes soften as they mature – this process can be managed through proper disease management, harvesting practices, cool storage methods and postharvest handling methods in order to produce high-quality products.

Processed fruits and vegetables are another effective way of improving their quality, and small-scale growers have several options when it comes to processing their own produce or working with larger processors. Before producing and marketing it themselves, however, small-scale farmers must first understand consumer interest before manufacturing and marketing any product.

Texture is one of the most critical characteristics when it comes to purchasing fruit and vegetables, and preharvest treatments and freezing processes are an effective way to alter its texture and create new varieties. They can help increase firmness or even change it entirely to produce something with an entirely unique texture that customers desire.

As well as traditional penetrometric methods of texture measurement, other techniques like rheological and organoleptic analyses have also become popular methods of evaluating fresh fruit and vegetable products. These techniques offer quick, objective assessments of texture. Mechanical methods like extrusion techniques may also be utilized for simultaneous evaluations (e.g. green peas).

Fruit and vegetable textures typically differ when frozen because the industrial freezing preservation process causes tissue death that alters molecular structures. To mitigate this effect, chilling sour cherries before freezing may reduce this impact or immersing vegetables into solutions with lower pH prior to freezing may help.

Nutrition

Fresh produce provides our bodies with essential vitamins and minerals that can help prevent or lower our risk of many diseases as we age, including fiber, calcium, iron, potassium folic acid and vitamins A & C – nutrients which have been shown to protect against heart disease, cancer, obesity and eye health. Unfortunately studies have demonstrated that nutritional content of fruits & vegetables has been diminishing with each passing decade, meaning today’s crops contain less protein, phosphorus calcium riboflavin & vitamin A than those grown decades earlier.

What we consider fruit or vegetable often depends on where we live or which language we speak; for instance, one study in Public Health Nutrition indicated that adults speaking English more commonly considered rice to be a vegetable than Spanish-speakers who considered beans more as such.

Although nutrition experts often advocate for us to consume more fruits and vegetables, this can be difficult. Some don’t enjoy eating them or don’t view them as snacks; others find them difficult or costly to prepare.

Reach your daily target of 400g by eating at least five portions (80g). One portion could include half a grapefruit or two satsumas; three tablespoons (30g) of dried fruit should only be consumed with meals to prevent tooth decay.

Introduce new foods and flavors to your family by taking them shopping at a grocery store or farmer’s market and letting them select their favorites themselves. It may be worthwhile purchasing whole vegetables or fruits rather than cutting into smaller pieces so as to increase appeal for children. Finally, keep a bowl of washed fruits ready in the fridge or on the counter so you can quickly reach for healthy snacks when hunger strikes!

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