Purchasing Produce During a Pandemic

Tips for Purchasing Produce During a Pandemic

By: Kristen Keen MBA, RD, LDN

Grocery shopping today looks a lot different than it did in the not-so-distant past – from new in-store safety measures to what products you can find on the shelves. As people stock up on items, this may affect what you are able to purchase. While canned and frozen foods are great shelf-stable options, you may be wondering about the safety of purchasing fresh produce.

Check out these tips and habits to help you feel more comfortable when purchasing fresh fruits and vegetables at your local grocery store.

1. The FDA explains here that “there is currently no evidence of human or animal food or food packaging being associated with transmission of the coronavirus that causes COVID-19”.

  • As an extra safeguard, you can wipe down and air-dry product packaging.

2. Prepackaged produce can make it easy to grab and go.

  • Consider bagged items such as apples, oranges, grapes, greens, onions, celery, potatoes and corn.
  • Consider items that are sold in containers like strawberries, tomatoes, blueberries, blackberries, cherries, greens, raspberries and kiwis.
  • Be sure to wash your produce under running water and scrub with a produce brush when you get home. A good kitchen 101 reminder: always wash your hands before handling any food in the kitchen.

3. Keep an eye out for local products that support small businesses and farms. There are plenty across the produce section.

4. Worried about your fresh produce going bad before you eat it? Go for products that have a longer shelf life!

  • These items include apples, carrots, beets, onions, potatoes, citrus, celery, winter squash, garlic, cabbage and pomegranate.
  • To extend the shelf life of your produce be sure to store it properly!

5. Don’t forget you can freeze your produce before it goes bad. Here’s how to do it:

  • Individual produce: Rinse the item and allow time to dry. Then place produce in a single layer on a cookie sheet and place in the freezer. Once frozen, store in an airtight, freezer-safe container.
  • Fresh herbs: Chop fresh herbs and place into ice cube trays. Top with olive oil, then freeze. Use later in sauces, soups or sautéing.
  • Citrus: Slice lemons, oranges or limes and place them into ice cube trays. Top with water and freeze. Add these citrusy ice cubes to your water or tea!
  • Cook extra: Make a large pot of vegetable stew, soup or chili and freeze leftovers for later.
  • Pro tip: Remember to leave extra room in your containers when freezing items to allow room for expansion.
  • How to use your frozen produce: Try these tasty recipes for frozen grapes and frozen green lemonade.

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