Keeping Fresh Vegetables on Hand Can Be a Challenge


Girl with Armful of Fresh Carrots

Because of the way that Americans typically shop, keeping fresh produce on hand can be a challenge.  Discount big-box stores sell in quantities that make consuming the entire product difficult; and because of how they do their purchasing, grocery stores start with variable freshness of their produce and can be more expensive.

In addition, every part of the US has different year-round availability of produce.  The number of things that impact that availability are numerous, and often hard to figure out.  Although most people don't think of it this way, shopping requires quite a bit of research to do it well.  Much of the research is hard to do even using the internet, but it can help.

Farm-to-table is an idea that can help.  Farmers markets (real ones) actually have produce that is grown locally, meaning within the state or in a neighboring state.  Instead of imports from Chile, Mexico, or somewhere else.  Often the local farmers market will offer both locally and imported produce in order to provide a broad range of food, but if there is nothing local in the market, it isn't any different from shopping in the grocery store, though it still may be cheaper.  At that point, cost versus time spent going to the farmers market over regular grocery trips is the equation to work out. 

Why go through all the trouble of finding farm fresh and local?  The produce is better, fresher, and it lasts longer.  Sometimes as much as weeks longer than what one can purchase at the local big box or grocery stores.  That's a big deal because the vegetables are more likely to hit the plate in quantity on a daily basis if they've made it long enough in the fridge.  Lettuce and fresh herbs are the toughest to keep on hand, but tomatoes, cauliflower, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, zucchini, most everything that doesn't usually make it a whole week in the fridge likely survives longer if it is bought fresh and local. 

Don't forget that canning, pickling and freezing are options that don't require you to be a rocket scientist in the kitchen.

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