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In the Produce Section

For pure sensory pleasure while grocery shopping, nothing beats the produce aisle. The colors, textures, and sheer variety make it hard not to buy one of everything. Which isn't a bad idea—buying a wide variety of fruits and veggies helps you cover your nutritional needs and offers delicious flavors to boot. Here are some ideas to consider when shopping for produce:

Choose local

Selecting local produce supports small farmers and your community. At the same time, you'll receive premium flavor and freshness. Why? Because local produce is grown with an emphasis on quality, not quantity, and doesn’t have to withstand commercial harvesting and shipment. In addition, many local producers offer special heirloom varieties unique to your geographical area. Local produce is also easier to trace back to its source to find out what methods and materials were used in its cultivation.

Choose in-season

In-season produce, especially when it’s local, offers fresh, "just picked" flavor. Whether you’re eating apples from a nearby orchard or spinach from a community garden, seasonal produce is a delicious option.

Choose organic

When you purchase organic produce, you're providing your family with the safest, most healthful produce and supporting the environment. If you can’t go 100% organic, concentrating on the produce you eat the most and/or items more likely to be contaminated with pesticides is a good place to start.

The Environmental Working Group puts out a list known as the “dirty dozen,” which identifies conventional produce items with the highest concentration of pesticide residue. The list includes celery, peaches, strawberries, apples, blueberries, nectarines, bell peppers, spinach, cherries, kale/collard greens, potatoes, and imported grapes. The dirty dozen may change over time—you can find the list and additional information at www.foodnews.org.

Your co-op is the perfect place to find local, organic, and in-season produce, as are farmers' markets and CSAs. From artichokes to zucchini, fresh, high-quality fruits and veggies are a beautiful way to bring nutrition and flavor to your daily meals.