The healthiest fruits and vegetables are picked fresh. The longer they are stored, the more nutritional value (and taste) they lose. Frozen fruits and vegetables are almost as tasty and nutritious as fresh-picked ones, and they may be even better than fresh produce that was picked unripe and then stored for weeks. Select a variety of fruits and vegetables, concentrating on the most deeply colored ones because they contain substances that have healthful effects. Have a spinach salad instead of iceberg lettuce, for example. Eat sweet potatoes or yams instead of white-fleshed potatoes.
In addition, choose fruits and vegetables that are in season (strawberries in the spring, zucchini in late summer). They are more likely than out-of-season produce to have been grown locally (or at least domestically) and not stored for long periods. It's also worth considering organic produce because it has lower levels of pesticide residues than other produce.
You can tell a lot about the condition of fruits and vegetables by looking at them and feeling them. Greens should not be wilted. Carrots should be crisp, not limp. Peaches, nectarines, and cantaloupes should be slightly soft, but not mushy. Brown spots on fruits and vegetables are signs of spoiling. On the other hand, produce that is too perfect-looking is not always desirable. Shiny, flawless skin on apples, peppers, and cucumbers is a sign that they have been coated in a pesticide wax. Although the wax can be washed off with soap and water, you're better off avoiding it entirely.
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