Spring is a good time to eat fruits and vegetables

Q: “Now that it’s officially spring, I’m looking to add even more fresh fruits and vegetables to my diet. What fruits and vegetables are in season right now? “

A: Even though snow showers are expected this weekend in parts of Ohio, yes, it is definitely spring. And with the weather soon to warm up, it’s a good time to pick up fresh fruits and vegetables, which are all the more abundant as they are in season in the spring.

Rain and sunny days make spring a good time to indulge in a wide range of bountiful produce such as asparagus, cabbage, kale, spinach, and strawberries. Not only are these items extremely fresh and tasty as they are currently in season, but they are also heavily discounted due to the abundance of supply based on this time of year.

Because fruits and vegetables grow in cycles and ripen during certain seasons, produce is generally fresher and tastes better when ripe. And while most fruits and vegetables are available to consumers year-round thanks to agricultural innovations, seasonal fruits and vegetables are generally cheaper to buy because they are easier to produce than cultivated fruits and vegetables. out of season.

For example, the most advertised items for sale in local grocery stores this week were fruits, accounting for 52% of all advertisements, and vegetables, accounting for 41% of all advertisements for sale in supermarkets, according to the March 25 edition of the National Retail Report, a weekly summary of advertised retail price information compiled by the United States Department of Agriculture.

“As the weather warms up across the country, stores are beginning to lure shoppers with the promise of spring,” the report said. “The advertisements for strawberries, peaches, cantaloupes and asparagus were numerous. Lenten favorites like chayote, lemons and poblano peppers have been advertised for meatless meals.

Although this is not an exhaustive list, generally speaking the following produce (among others) are in season in Ohio during the spring, according to the Ohio Farm Bureau:

  • asparagus
  • Cabbage
  • Green cabbage
  • kale
  • Mustard leaves
  • Radishes
  • Rhubarb
  • Spinach
  • Strawberries
  • turnip greens

While eating fruits and vegetables is an important part of a healthy diet, it’s also important to remember to incorporate food safety when preparing and consuming them. This is because some raw fruits and vegetables can contain foodborne pathogens such as E. coli, listeria and salmonella, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Thus, nearly half of all foodborne illnesses are caused by germs found on fresh produce, according to the CDC.

While cooking produce is one of the best ways to reduce your risk of developing foodborne illness, here are some other CDC tips to keep in mind when choosing and eating raw fruits and vegetables. :

  • Always choose products that are not bruised or damaged.
  • When shopping, choose pre-cut fruits and vegetables that are refrigerated or stored on ice.
  • Keep fruits and vegetables separate from raw meat, poultry and seafood in your shopping cart and in your grocery bags.
  • Wash or scrub fruits and vegetables under running water, even if you don’t plan to eat the skin, so dirt and germs on the surface don’t get inside during slicing.
  • Cut off any damaged or bruised areas before preparing or eating.
  • Refrigerate cut fruits and vegetables within two hours. Store them in a clean container at 40 degrees Fahrenheit or lower.
  • Store fruits and vegetables away from raw meat, poultry and seafood, and not next to or under them. These items can leak juices that could contain germs.
  • Use a different cutting board for fruits and vegetables than one used for cutting or preparing raw meats, poultry or seafood.
  • Wash cutting boards, countertops and utensils with hot, soapy water before and after preparing fruits and vegetables.

Chow Line is a service of The Ohio State University College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences and its Outreach and Research Branches, The Ohio State University Extension, and The Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center. Send your questions to Chow Line, c/o Tracy Turner, 364 W. Lane Ave., Suite B120, Columbus, OH 43201, or turner.490@osu.edu.


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