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A Crash Course in How to Store Fresh Fruits and Vegetables

Could you use an extra $300? You might want to take a look in your garbage. A survey conducted by Glad, the food storage people, revealed that the average household throws away 150 pounds of rotten produce each year! Mind-boggling, right?

Here’s a fun, crash course in the how, where, and, why of fresh fruits and vegetables. Start following these insanely simple tips and you’ll be amazed to see far fewer of your food dollars (hopefully, none) end up in the garbage in the form of stinky, rotten produce.

Collage of beautiful homegrown vegetables

Yes, that’s is Mary’s garden!

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6 Ways to Stop Throwing Rotten Produce in the Garbage

I’m having a difficult time wrapping my head around this documented fact: Half of all produce grown in the U.S. is thrown out, while at the same time there is growing hunger and poverty right here in America.

 

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As I read the first paragraph of this news story, I assumed naively that all U.S.-grown produce makes it to market. Then consumers like you and me get it home, let it go bad before we can consume it and into the garbage it goes. That is a factor, but not the whole story.

The truth is that vast quantities of fresh produce are left in the field to rot. It then becomes livestock feed or gets hauled directly to the landfill because of (get ready) cosmetic standards.

Not every potato, watermelon, strawberry or grape cluster turns out photo-perfect. Some are ugly. And, unfortunately, that means they do not meet retailer and consumer demands for blemish-free, perfect produce.

Just imagine how the retail cost of produce might plummet if all that is produced—even the still-nutritious but ugly produce—were available for sale. More on that in a bit.

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How to Make Your Own Highly Effective Fruit and Vegetable Wash

Every year, says the Center for Disease Control, nearly 48 million people become ill from foodborne contamination, including sickness caused by fresh produce. To avoid this, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration recommends washing produce thoroughly with a fruit and vegetable wash to help kill bacteria and ensure produce is safe for consumption.

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Walk into any grocery store these days, and more than likely you’ll find more than few choices of commercial fruit and veggie “washes” displayed between baskets of kumquats and kiwis, all promising to save your family by making produce safe for human consumption.

Stop! Before you spend even a few bucks for a fancy container with glowing promises, consider that you can make your own highly effective fruit and vegetable wash for just pennies.

While buying a commercial product to do this might sound great because it’s convenient, check the ingredients. You’re likely to find an ironically high number of chemicals with a price tag to match.

Mixing up your own fruit and vegetable wash is not only cheap—it’s also ridiculously easy. As a bonus, you’ll always know exactly what’s in it.

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How to Make Groceries Last Even Longer

 

A recent column on the proper storage for fresh fruits and vegetables generated a lot of great reader feedback—plus dozens of new tips and tricks to make all grocery items last longer. I love this stuff so much I must admit to being slightly compulsive–gathering, testing and assessing techniques. Here are a few of my new favorites:

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BERRIES: Are you familiar with that sick feeling that comes when you notice that the berries you bought yesterday are already showing signs of mold and turning brown? Here’s the remedy: As soon as you bring them into the kitchen prepare a mixture of one part vinegar (white or apple cider) and ten parts water. Give berries a bath in the mixture. Swirl them around a bit the gently drain, rinse, and place in the refrigerator. Don’t worry. The solution is so weak you will not taste the vinegar. This treatment should give your strawberries an additional two weeks of useful life and raspberries a week or more. Vinegar retards the growth of bacteria that causes berries to spoil so quickly.

POTATOES: To keep potatoes from growing big ugly sprouts before you have time to use them up, store them with a couple of apples. For some reason, that really works to halt the sprouting. Read more