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4 Ways to Shop for Fresh Vegetables

Updated on February 1, 2018
Kenna McHugh profile image

Kenna is an enthusiastic cook and former chef who loves discovering ways to prepare food for people with allergies or food sensitivities.


Shopping for Vegetables

When I go shopping for vegetables, I go right to the organic vegetable section of the produce department. I look over the produce very carefully because I want my purchase to be as fresh as possible. The fresher the produce the longer it will stay fresh in my refrigerator before I prepare the vegetables for a meal. The tips I offer are for those who want the freshest produce available.

1. Demand Fresh Vegetables

Shopping for fresh vegetables starts with choosing a reliable market you can trust and know they offer all vegetables as fresh as possible. If that means a weekly farmers market or grocery store that guarantees fresh, local produce, so be it. It requires demanding the best and shopping around until you find it. Even talk to the local farmer at the farmer’s market or produce manager at the grocery store to find out which vegetable is local and when it was picked, packed, and shipped. Another clincher is how are the vegetables packed for shipping. Some use ice and some don't use anything. Above all, don’t compromise – demand fresh vegetable and you’ll get fresh vegetables.

Best Tips for Picking Vegetables

2. Start from the Roots

Root vegetables such as beetroots, carrots, radishes, and potatoes grow in rich soil with green, thriving stalks soaking up the elements above the ground. Picking out root vegetables worth buying and eating at your dinner table requires a sharp eye and keen sense of what is fresh and what’s not fresh. You need to be extremely picky. Root vegetables that give in when picked up them up are not fresh. One of the best ways to describe an unhealthy root vegetable is they feel like rubber and are discolored. They need to be solid and feel strong. You can even have the farmer or produce clerk cut open a root vegetable. Watch and listen. If it snaps to the cut and has strong colors, it’s fresh. When checking the freshness of carrots and radishes, you can taste test them. Do they snap with your bite into them? If they do, they are fresh.

Picking the Fresh Produce

3. Shop with the Seasons

The best way to ensure fresh vegetables is to buy the vegetables when they are in season. The benefits of seasonal shopping are lower prices, locally grown, and fresher vegetables by far. Talk with your local farmer’s market or produce clerk and find out the seasons for each vegetable, so you get nothing but fresh. As an example, tomatoes grown during the winter tend to have a thick skin and taste bland. It wouldn't even splat if you hit it with a baseball bat. Tomatoes grown in season appear juicy, solid and taste like a 4th of July tomato, yummy.

4. Now, That’s Fresh Lettuce!

Green leafy vegetables make the tastiest salad or coleslaw, but it takes a smart eye and patience to pick the freshest bunch. Fresh lettuce is crisp to the touch. Simply break a leaf, and if it snaps, that's fresh. Go ahead and take a bite. Make sure it’s crisp through and through.

Do you notice brown spots or tears throughout the lettuce leaves? The more the brown spots or tears the less fresh the lettuce. Produce departments will remove leaves with brown spots and tears. With that, when you see a small head of romaine or green leaf, it means the outer leaves have been removed because of brown spots and tears. Which means, the lettuce is not fresh.

Can you freeze lettuce? No. So, avoid lettuce kept on ice. The ice freezes the lettuce leaves, causing them to turn to mush when you get them home.

Fresh cabbage makes a delicious coleslaw and baked cabbage. Look at the cabbage and see if it holds the large green outer leaves. That means it is still very fresh and new to the produce section. Produce clerks remove the large green leaves when they look brown, meaning not as fresh. Small cabbages may have once been large cabbages, so they are not fresh. When in doubt, ask the produce clerk how fresh is the lettuce or cabbage.

3 Day Meal Plan

On a final note, I shop with a 3-day meal plan in mind. Any long meal plan and my organic vegetables are just not as fresh as I would like them to be. Some may feel this is too cumbersome and time-consuming, rather shop once a week. But, keep in mind with the Internet available, you can have organic vegetables delivered to your home.

I look for organic vegetables near me, which saves me time. I encourage you to locate vegetables to buy organic close by so you can save time, too.

© 2017 Kenna McHugh


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    • Kenna McHugh profile imageAUTHOR

      Kenna McHugh 

      13 months ago from Northern California

      Thanks for posting. I can find some pretty decent organic fruits and vegetables at Costco. The larger stores are bringing better produce to their customers. Though buying local is a better way to go for everyone, but it not always available.

    • peachpurple profile image


      13 months ago from Home Sweet Home

      I always shop for veggies in the hypermarket, rarely in the wet market.

    • Kenna McHugh profile imageAUTHOR

      Kenna McHugh 

      16 months ago from Northern California

      I love shopping for vegetables.


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