Casey McAlpine, Dietetics Major ‘22, University Health Center Peer Nutrition Coach
Picture by Casey McAlpine
Being a college student means always having a busy schedule, which can make finding time to grocery shop difficult. Shopping for fresh produce can be an overwhelming experience. How do I know what fruit is ripe? What if it goes bad before I eat all of it? We’ve all been there, standing, staring at the produce section. So, next time you’re in the grocery store, remember these tips to make shopping for fruits and veggies a breeze.
Buy produce when it’s in-season
When fresh fruits and vegetables are ‘in-season’ it means that they are sold, purchased, and consumed close to the time that it is harvested. Fresh produce costs less when it is in-season. The USDA Seasonal Produce Guide organizes a variety of fruits and vegetables into lists for the season they are in-season. The guide is interactive and provides nutrition information, delicious recipes, and educational articles about each fruit or veggie. Here is a sample list of produce in-season:
- Spring: apples, avocados, bananas, carrots, lettuce, pineapple, strawberries
- Summer: bell peppers, blueberries, cucumbers, peaches, watermelon, summer squash
- Fall: broccoli, green beans, pears, pumpkin, potatoes, radishes, turnips
- Winter: brussel sprouts, cabbage, celery, oranges, winter squash
Find a local farmers’ market
One of the best ways to get fresh, in-season produce is to shop at a local farmers’ market. In the fall and spring, the University of Maryland has its very own farmer’ market right here on campus starting on April 6, 2022. Every Wednesday, outside Tawes Hall, the UMD farmers’ market has a group of vendors who offer a wide selection of locally grown produce and locally made products. There are other farmers’ markets in the area in the Riverdale Park neighborhood and the Hollywood neighborhood. The USDA shares that farmers’ markets offer fresh foods at reasonable prices, support local agriculture, and are often sustainable shopping experiences. Find a farmers’ market near you to enjoy the rewarding experience of supporting the local economy while also eating farm to table!
Find friends to buy produce together
Shopping for one person is difficult. Many college students struggle to buy fresh fruits and vegetables for themselves because of the risk that if they buy too much, it will go bad and go to waste. Finding friends who would want to shop together and share produce is a great way to be able to buy a variety of fresh foods without the risk of waste. Cutting up fruits and veggies takes time so sharing that responsibility with friends helps to accommodate the busy student schedule.
Additionally, Safeway in Hyattsville typically has a member deal on pre-cut fruit bowls where you can get two for a cheaper price. Pre-cut fruits are convenient and also a great option for individual shoppers.
Organic does not always mean better for you
Organic farming is when crops are grown without the use of synthetic fertilizers and pesticides. Organic is often associated with being healthier, but that is not the case. Non-organic produce has all of the same nutrients as organic produce but is sold at a lower cost. Organic produce and non-organic produce look and taste nearly the same and have all of the same health benefits. Choose the options that fit within your budget.
Try something new
Variety is key to ensuring that you are enjoying a nutritious diet and are getting all of your essential nutrients. Are there any fruits or vegetables that you’ve never tried before? Encourage yourself to grab something new off the shelves next time you are at the store; you never know, you may find your new favorite food!
Including fresh produce in your diet gives you the opportunity to enjoy different flavors and textures, in addition to all of the vitamins and minerals they offer. Fruits and vegetables are key to maintaining a healthy lifestyle, so keep these 5 tips in mind the next time you are planning a trip to the grocery store.
To learn more about fresh fruits and vegetables, reserve your free session with a nutrition coach today by emailing NutritionCoach@umd.edu or by calling (301) 314-5664 or to learn more information visit http://www.health.umd.edu.