You’re eating lots of fruits and vegetables every day, but are you sure you’re getting the most nutritional value from them, and what can you do to improve how many nutrients you are getting. To understand we need to take a deeper look at the trip that fruits and vegetables make to get to your table.
Many different factors can affect the nutritional value of fruits and vegetables before they reach your table. The two most important are time and traveling conditions. The shorter the time frame that the fruit is packed until it reaches your table the better. If you are lucky enough to have a home garden try to pick your vegetables early in the morning for peak flavor and nutritional value. The next best choice is to use a local market stand. Generally the foods they are selling were picked within a few hours of being set out for sale. If there are no local markets in your area like most people you’ll be forced to shop at a supermarket.
Before any produce reaches your local supermarket it must first be picked, and packaged. If the food is coming to you from the same state or neighboring state chances are it was picked within 48 hours of reaching the stores shelves. If you’re produce is making it way from California to New York chances are it was picked 7 to 10 days ago. Why do you need to be concerned about when something was harvested? When any produce is picked off of the vine it is at its nutritional peak value. It starts to lose that value as time passes, the more time that passes, and the more value it loses.
The second biggest contributor is handling. If care is taken no to bruise or damage the exterior skin produce will last longer. Additionally storing a produce at the proper temperature will also help slow down the loss of nutrients. Here’s where it gets a little tricky, some fruits like temperatures as high as 60 degrees, and other prefer temperatures in the mid 30’s. So the longer your food is in transit, and the more care that it shown to handling it properly the more packed with nutrients it is likely to be when it hits the shelves of your local supermarket.