Get the best produce with a little planning

Summer and fall months are a great time to stock up on healthy fruits and veggies.

But for the produce novice, it might seem overwhelming to know which types are best to buy during which season.

According to Julia Zumpano, RD, of Cleveland Clinic, a good place to start is close to home.

“Start with buying as local as possible,” she said. “If you do have access to farmer’s markets that’s always the way to go. That will give you an idea of what is local in your area – what can be grown, locally, in that season.”

For those who don’t have the access to a farmer’s market, Zumpano recommends mirroring the foods that are in that season when shopping at the local grocery store.

She said most stores will have information on where the produce is coming from, so look for things that are grown as close to home as possible.

During off-season months, frozen can be a good way to go, as these items are grown in-season, then frozen, which helps retain the flavor.

Zumpano said it pays to be picky too.

Organic fruits and vegetables may cost a little more, but they also tend to be more flavorful and have less pesticides on them.

And even when in a hurry, don’t just grab the first items on the pile. Zumpano said when we grab items quickly and come home without really looking at them, often times we can end up with some bad produce.

“Choose vegetables and fruits wisely,” she said. “Take the time look at the vegetable; look at the fruit – make sure they don’t have any bruises or bumps, and take a little extra time, because of lot of times we’re in a hurry.”

For those looking for more detailed information on what is available locally, Zumpano said that there are resources online, such as the USDA’s website, which has information on which fruits and vegetables are in season during the course of the year.