Category Archives: produce

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Foods you should eat to stay healthy this summer

Summer is officially here, and it is time to sit back and relax! Whether you’re off to epic outdoor adventures or just staying put for low-key backyard or poolside barbecues, there’s no doubt that the tranquility of the season makes eating, all the more, one of life’s simple pleasures.

Thankfully, summertime brings an abundance of fruits and vegetables available for us. So, while you’re gallivanting and gormandizing, FoodFacts.com lists foods that can help you stay in tip-top shape during the summer months.

Corn

Make corn your official side dish for those grilling sessions with family and friends! Corn contains two specific antioxidants, lutein and zeaxanthin, which help form macular pigment that filter out the sun’s ultraviolet rays. To put it simply, corn is a natural sunblock that can help protect your skin from damages caused by the sun.

Tomatoes

Tomato is rich in lycopene that help protect your skin from sunburn, making it another great produce that you can add to your line of defense against the blazing summer sun. Bear in mind that tomato increases its lycopene content when processed and/or cooked.

Berries

Berries make for a delicious and healthy snack whether you’re eating them off of a bowl at home or off of a container when you’re on the road. Munching on berries can significantly improve your diet as they are rich in antioxidants and fiber. These fibrous fruits can help you combat constipation, which is a common problem when traveling.

Green tea

Green tea is one of the most highly recommended foods for detoxing and hydrating. It should be a staple regardless of where you are. In her article, A Top Chef’s Tips for Keeping It Healthy While Traveling, celebrity chef Marisa Churchill recommends bringing your own supply so you’ll always have some on hand and consuming 20 ounces of green tea per day.

Water

Water still remains the best way to stay cool and hydrated during the scorching summer months. Drink 16-32 ounces, plus additional amounts when you’re being active to replenish the loss from perspiration. Be sure to always have water with you when you are traveling. You may also want to consider bringing a portable water filter so you can have access to clean, drinking water wherever you go.

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Safety tips for handling fresh produce

Eating fresh produce is integral in achieving a balanced, healthy diet. However, over 80% of the United States’ population do not meet the recommended daily consumption for both fruits and vegetables. This National Fresh Fruits and Vegetables Month, our goal is definitely to get people to eat more fresh produce, but we should also send caution about food poisoning from the consumption of these foods.

Food becomes contaminated through a variety of ways. For fruits and vegetables, they may come in contact with harmful bacteria in the soil or water from which they are grown, or during storage and preparation after they are harvested. Eating contaminated produce may lead to foodborne illnesses; and they are especially more common in the warm summer months when foodborne bacteria multiply faster, and fruits and vegetables are often eaten raw.

FoodFacts.com shares some safety tips in handling fresh produce to avoid foodborne illnesses (also called “food poisoning”).

Choose Right

Whether it’s from a grocery store, farmers’ markets or roadside stands, be sure to inspect produce properly and avoid the ones that are damaged or have bruises. Whole, uncut produce is always preferable, but for pre-prepared fruits and vegetables like sliced cantaloupe or bagged lettuce, grab only those that are chilled in the refrigerator or on ice.

Note: Segregate fruits and vegetables from raw meat, poultry and/or seafood in your cart, and place them in separate shopping bags.

Store Properly

Proper storage is important in maintaining the quality of fruits and vegetables. Perishable goods, especially pre-cut, peeled or packaged, must be refrigerated at a temperature of 40°F or below. Some produce, such as apples, potatoes, onions and garlic, are better stored at room temperature.

Preparation Tips

When dealing with produce, be sure to begin with clean hands. Wash hands with soap and warm water. Cut and discard any damaged or bruised areas before preparing and/or eating fruits and vegetables.

Washing

  • Do NOT use soap or detergent.
  • No matter where you got the produce – homegrown or from any merchant – it’s highly recommended that you wash them thoroughly with running water to rid them of as much chemicals as possible.
  • Even if you plan to take the peel off of fruits and vegetables, washing the outer layer is still necessary to remove dirt and bacteria. For firm produce such as watermelon and zucchini, use a produce brush.
  • Dry washed produce with a clean paper towel to further reduce bacteria that may still be present.

Putting together

  • Always keep raw meat, poultry and seafood (as well as cutting board, knives, utensils and dishes used to prepare them) separate from produce that will be eaten uncooked.
  • If possible, use different cutting boards and other kitchen tools for meat, poultry and seafood, and for fresh produce.
  • Or, wash cutting boards and other kitchen tools with soap and hot water between preparing raw goods and produce.

 

If you or a family member have contacted foodborne illnesses, call your healthcare provider immediately. For serious cases, take afflicted to the emergency room or call 9-1-1.

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Clean-eating without going over your budget

There’s a question that lingers in the minds of people who want to make better food choices: How can I eat clean and not hurt my budget? At local grocery stores, a family-sized bag of chips is cheaper than a container of mixed greens; and fast food chains are perpetually coming up with value-meal promotions, which sell ready-to-eat food and convenience in their pitches.

The sad truth is, for many people, buying healthy foods means living above their means. It doesn’t take a genius to see why a parent would purchase a full meal that comes with plenty of sides and drinks for $20 for his or her family, instead of opting to spend more on ingredients as well as more time in the kitchen preparing healthy meals. Unfortunately, food choices among many households in the United States are dictated by income; and those resorting to unhealthy choices are more susceptible to developing serious health conditions such as diabetes and obesity.

FoodFacts.com shares these money-saving tips that will, not only help you eat cleaner, but only allow you to have enough to live a quality life.

Apply supply-and-demand principle

When putting an effort in adding more fruits and vegetables in your daily diet, be sure to consider the ones that are in-season. Merchants drop the prices of seasonal produce due to their abundance. Also, the flavor and nutrition of these fruits and vegetables are at their peak during their natural harvest season. This summer, the produce to buy are strawberries, cherries, peaches and plum!

Up-size your supplies

In addition to seasonal fruits and vegetables, you save on staples such as grains, nuts and spices when you buy them in large sizes and/or in bulk. Large sizes minimize packaging costs for the supplier, therefore there is less manufacturing expenditure passed on to the consumers. Bulk-buying does make you spend more upfront, but it saves you more money and time in the long run.

Freeze fruits and vegetables

Bought too much of the in-season produce? Put them in the freezer. Frozen fruits and vegetables will make great ingredients for your next fruity smoothie or cleansing vegetable juice!

Skip the all-organic diet

While the growing awareness on the health benefits of organic food is undeniable, not many people can afford it. Sure, the gap between the prices of organic and non-organic foods is not as high as generally perceived, but it’s still the amount of money that many individuals and families can’t afford to shell out. The good news is, there are certain produce that minimally absorb chemicals when they are conventionally grown such as corn, cabbage, avocados, onions and pineapples.

Buy store brands

Don’t veer away from store brands! Whole Foods 365, Wegmans and Trader Joe’s, for instance, have products that offer the same nutritional value as the brands they carry on their shelves at cheaper prices.

Make your own sauces and dressings

Forgo store-bought sauces and dressings. These not only cost more as compared to homemade concoctions, but they are full of added sugar, sodium and whatnot. Take some olive oil and spices and you’ve got yourself your own sauce and dressing, minus the preservatives.

Get creative with leftovers

Don’t throw food away! Cut back on food waste by freezing leftovers, and eating them at a later time. You can also search up recipes that use the same or similar ingredients to repurpose them into new dishes.

The all my food facts app can help you identify ingredients that will aid in your clean-eating efforts. Get it on iTunes, Google Play and Amazon!

Another great reason to go organic: pesticides in our produce

Earlier this summer, The Environmental Working Group released the eighth edition of its Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce. This is a great resource for consumers and FoodFacts.com wants to make our community aware of its findings.

Researchers different fruits and vegetables to determine pesticide contamination. This year’s study provides information on 45 different fruits and vegetables. All the samples of these fruits and vegetables were either washed or peeled prior to testing. In this manner the study actually reflects the amount of pesticides present when the food is actually being consumed. The results are pretty sad and kind of frightening.

An apple a day, for instance might actually end up sending you to the doctor, instead of keeping the doctor away. 98% of non-organic apples tested contained detectable levels of pesticides. Lettuce samples reflected the presence of 78 different pesticides. All the nectarines tested contained pesticide residue. Grapes “won” in the fruit category, with 64 different pesticides found in samples tested. Strawberries and blueberries were both on the list as well.

Most disturbing, however, was pesticide testing for fruit and vegetable baby food. This year’s study included green beans, pears and sweet potatoes. Sadly, after analyzing about 190 baby food samples, 92% of the pear samples tested positive for at least one pesticide. On the up side virtually none of the sweet potato baby food products contained any pesticide. On the down side, the pesticide iprodione which has been categorized as a probably carcinogen showed up in three baby food pear samples. The pesticide is not registered with the EPA for use on pears at all.

The EPW also publishes a list of produce that is least likely to test positive for pesticides. Those products include asparagus, cabbage, grapefruit, watermelon, eggplant, pineapple, frozen peas and sweet potatoes.

It’s important to note that this report is not designed to reflect the affects of pesticide exposure. It is specifically meant to measure the presence of pesticides in common fruits and vegetables in the produce aisle … and now the baby food aisle as well. Research is ongoing regarding the affects of those pesticides on consumers, which ones and in what amounts. But having an understanding of what pesticides are found and where, can help all consumers make better decisions at the grocery store. FoodFacts.com encourages you to read more about this fascinating report: http://www.ewg.org/release/ewg-releases-2012-shopper-s-guide-pesticides-produce. Information like this helps us all to understand what’s really in our food.