Identifying fresh vegetables

Fresh vegetables have a specific color, firmness and smell.

Woman holding basket of fresh vegetables.

What do you look for when buying fresh vegetables and where can you purchase fresh vegetables? One of the places Michigan State University Extension recommends shopping for fresh vegetables is farmers market. Farmers markets provide an opportunity for consumers to purchase locally grown vegetables, but what if they have not reached their peak or if they have passed their peak? 

The choice to buy fresh vegetables is easy and affordable. If you are unable to get to a farmer’s market or there isn’t one close by, you can go to your local supermarket. One tip to making better fresh vegetable choices is to look for what is in season. Some seasonally available vegetables are:

  • January - June: onions, potatoes, asparagus, greens, lettuce, peas, radishes, spinach and turnips
  • July- August: beans, beets, broccoli, carrots, cauliflower, cucumbers, zucchini, summer squash and corn
  • September - October: beans, beets, broccoli, carrots, cauliflower, cucumbers, zucchini, summer squash, cabbage, corn, onions, potatoes, pumpkins, eggplant, brussel sprouts, parsnips, peppers, rutabagas, acorn and butternut squash, tomatoes and turnips
  • November – December: brussel sprouts, celery, onions, potatoes, rutabagas, squash (butternut, acorn) turnips

It is important to look for freshness in all vegetables we consume. Check the characteristic signs of freshness such as bright, lively color in the vegetable and look to see if the vegetable is crisp and free of soft spots. Vegetables are at their peak during their harvest season, this is also when vegetables are the most affordable to purchase. A seasonal vegetable also helps to ensure freshness, and chances are, they have not traveled too far to reach the market. One of the most important reasons for purchasing fresh is the nutritional value that freshness brings to you as a consumer. Vegetables are low in fa, high in fiber and provide key nutrients for our day.

Expand your table and your taste buds to include fresh vegetables in your diet by creating dishes that are centered on vegetables. Some examples include eggplant parmesan, grilled vegetable medley, veggie pizza or just plain vegetables. There are many ways to enjoy vegetables, and many ways to be creative when you serve them.

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