Identifying fresh vegetables

Fresh vegetables: color, firmness, smell.

What do you look for when buying fresh vegetables and where can you purchase fresh vegetables? Michigan State University Extension encourages to try your local farmers market. Farmers’ markets provide opportunity for consumers to purchase locally grown vegetables, but what if they have not reached their peak or if they have passed their peak? 

As consumers, we can make the choice to buy fresh vegetables easy and affordable. This can be done through careful observation. If you are unable to get to a farmers’ market or there isn’t one close by? You can go to your local supermarket to make better choices with a few tips. 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, 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. Also 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 assure freshness and chances are, they haven’t 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 fat and 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 could be; Eggplant parmesan, grilled vegetable medley, veggie pizza, or plain vegetables. There are many ways to enjoy the vegetables, and remember to be creative when you serve fresh vegetables.

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