Increasing produce prices

Are the prices for fruits and vegetables going up in your area?

Recently there has been a lot of media information circulating about the increasing costs of buying fruits and vegetables. Some economists are foreseeing higher prices due to the long drought that California has been experiencing. California grows about 50 percent of the nation’s fruits and vegetables, including strawberries, tomatoes and lettuce. As a result of their drought there’s reason to believe that we all could be paying higher produce prices.

Fruits and vegetables provide fiber, also found in grains. Fiber helps keep our digestive tracts healthy and regular as well as lowering our risk for heart disease and diabetes. Fruits and vegetables are also a major source for a variety of other nutrients including vitamins A and C, folic acid, iron and calcium. These nutrients help keep our immune system strong. Fruits and vegetables also add color, variety and flavor to our meals.

To reduce your produce costs at the grocery store or farmer’s market, try some of these tips:

  • Compare the cost of fresh produce to the frozen or canned version. For example, the cost of corn on the cob to frozen corn on the cob, or canned corn. Fresh is not always the cheapest way to go.
  • Shop for store or regional brands. These brands are canned or frozen at the same time as the national brands but are available at a lower price.
  • Shop sales. If you have extra storage space, stock up on canned produce during sales and buy in bulk quantities.
  • Check for seasonal fruits and veggies. They may cost less but even if the cost is the same as frozen or canned, fruits and veggies in season have delicious flavors that often can’t compare with the processed version.
  • Grow your own produce. Mid to late summer is not too late to plant some of the shorter growing varieties of produce such as herbs, lettuces and green beans.
  • Consider preserving your fruits and vegetables. If you already know how to can and freeze produce, you can save dollars over what you’ll spend in the winter and preserve that just picked flavor. If you want to learn how to preserve food, contact local Michigan State University Extension office for food preservation classes in your area.
  • Start planning your garden for next summer. Even if you live in a small space, many varieties of fruits and veggies can be grown in containers.

A little planning now will ensure that your family benefits from eating fruits and vegetables no matter what the cost may be at the local supermarket. For more information on the health benefits of eating fruits and vegetables or how to grow your own garden, contact your local MSU Extension.

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