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Perfect produce helps consumers save

August 6, 2008 12:00:00 AM PDT
Mountains of melons, piles of peaches, and bouquets of broccoli -- fruits and vegetables are especially tempting this time of year. However, looks can be deceiving. "It's happened to everybody," said ShopSmart magazine editor Lisa Lee Freeman. "You bite into a piece of fruit. It looks so good, but then it tastes so bad. What a disappointment and what a waste of money. Americans throw out about half a pound of produce every single day."

Freeman said there are tricks to making sure you do not bring home any duds.

"Don't just use your eyes when you're searching for great fruits and veggies," Freeman said. "Also use your nose. For example, when you're hunting for melons and berries, they should smell sweet."

Choose tomatoes with a vibrant color that are a little soft to the touch. As for beans, thin ones are better, and ones that bend are old. You can use the same bending test with celery, asparagus, and zucchini. Look for broccoli that is dark green with tight buds. If you can separate the buds or it is yellow, it is getting old.

"With watermelons, you want to look for a nice sheen to its skin," Freeman said. "You also want to look for a yellow patch on the bottom. That means it's ripe, but not rotten."

Pick plums with even color and no brown spots. They should be slightly soft to the touch.

The same is true for peaches and nectarines. Choose them with a creamy, gold background color.

Also, no matter how fabulous the produce, resist the urge to buy more than you will eat. That way you do not end up wasting money.

 

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