Buying Vegetables

Photo by Jamie V Photography

Photo by Jamie V Photography

Before I start adding recipes here, I wanted to talk about buying vegetables. To make a delicious meal, you have to get good quality produce or it’s not going to taste very good. But where are some places to get good quality produce? Well, if you can grow your own vegetables organically and eat the vegetables that are in season that would be ideal. If that is not an option for you, then some great places to get vegetables are at the local Farmer’s Market, the local food co-op or health food store if you have one, or the general grocery store. There are also some nice places where you can order vegetables on-line if you don’t have any local options available!

Choosing the right vegetables can be difficult if you don’t know some general things to look out for. Here are some of the things I look for when choosing my vegetables: Are they richly colorful vs. dull? Are they crisp vs. withered? Are they firm vs. rubbery or squishy? Are the vegetables intact vs. nicked or cracked? Are they fresh-looking vs. starting to get brown or yellow spots on them? If they are nice and colorful, crisp, firm (which is different from rock-hard), intact, and fresh-looking then it is most likely going to be a good choice! Of course, vegetables will have their individual imperfections and they are still fine to eat that way. If a head of lettuce fits the “good” criteria but has a few little pieces that are browning or withered at the top, you can always just pluck those pieces off and discard and use the rest of the lettuce just fine. The same goes for all the other vegetables. I have often bought too much produce at one time that it was hard to use it all before brown spots started appearing. I easily salvaged the good parts by simply cutting out the small brown or yellow spots and using the remaining fresh part of the vegetable.

So, use your senses when buying produce: Look at what the vegetable looks like, Feel what the vegetable feels like, and you can even smell the vegetables to see what they smell like! And if vegetable shopping is completely foreign to you, then ask someone with experience to help you as you get started or look up individual pictures of the vegetables you want to buy so you have a mental reference of what it looks like fresh.

Other things to consider when buying vegetables: Buying locally is best because you are avoiding all the transport costs, fuel, and time of transport. Eating in season - eating the vegetables that grow during the season you are in - is also a good choice because our bodies do best with what is local and in season. Using organic produce is great because you are avoiding pesticide residues on your food. And then lastly, getting your produce fresh is delicious and full of nutrients. If you can’t get them fresh than frozen vegetables are a better option than canned vegetables. Mostly, do what works for you! If you can’t afford buying organic vegetables then choose fresh non-organic vegetables because it’s better that you are eating your vegetables than eating processed foods. If you want to make a meal that calls for vegetables that are not local and not in season, don’t let that stop you - make your delicious meal! Get to know your vegetables and have fun. Happy vegetable shopping!