I love fresh produce. If the produce is local that is even better! I remember when I was a kid we would stop off at a roadside stand and pick up corn every night during the summer months. The corn was fresh, had crisp green leaves and if we were lucky you could shake off the rain from the night before. We then took the corn outside and shucked it and tossed the husks in the garden. Mom gave it a quick 3 minute blanch in boiling water and we sprinkled it with salt. This is what summer memories are made of!
Through a conversation I had with a GIANT Food Stores nutritionist this week I learned all about the fresh and local produce that is available at your local Giant.
It is one thing to have produce be fresh, it is another thing when it is fresh AND local.
But HOW local is local?
Turns out within a 50 mile radius! When you see the ‘Locally Grown’ tags on the produce they mean the farm down the road…not across the country. My Giant is buying from Oak Grove Farms in Mechanicsburg. Oak Grove Farms, Inc. is a family owned farm that has been around since the 1960’s. The business is located in the heart of Central Pennsylvania. They have a Country Farm Store located in Mechanicsburg and also ship a lot of our Homegrown Produce to local grocery stores and farm markets, Giant Food Stores being one of them! Oak Grove 2 times a week Oak Grove will deliver to 22 different GIANT Food Store Locations.
So instead of me going to the farm, the farm comes to me at Giant.
Fruit and Vegetable Selecting Tips
We know that the staff at Giant takes great care in selecting the produce they put out for us to buy but I have some tips directly from the nutritionist on staff as to how to perfectly select the produce that is right for you.
- Bruise free.
- Firm peaches for recipes to be made in a few days.
- Slight give, when gently pressed for eating today or tomorrow.
- The fragrance of the peach has little to do with the ripeness.
**HINT: Place underripe peaches in a brown paper bag and they will ripen faster. Placing them in a bag helps to concentrate the levels of ethylene gas which is what helps fruits such as peaches, bananas and avocados ripen faster!
- Bruise free.
- Firm vegetables.
- Store in the refrigerator in a plastic bag for optimal freshness.
- Zucchini make a great substitution for pasta with the help of a Spiralizer or a Julienne Slicer.
- Give it a sniff. Does it smell like a cantaloupe?
- The stem end should have a bit of give to it.
- Heavy for its size.
- The ‘netting’ or raised patterning on the cantaloupe should be raised.
**Hint: Wash the cantaloupe before you cut it. Even though you don’t eat the rind of the fruit, cantaloupe are still grown on a vine that runs along the ground.
**Delicious: Cantaloupe pairs well with pork and salty meats. Cantaloupe and prosciutto anyone? Also consider adding ribbons of cantaloupe to your salad! An extra layer of texture and sweetness will be a welcome addition to any salad.
- Firm with no blemishes.
- Store on the counter for 2-3 days. Do not store in the refrigerator.
**Delicious: Remove the top 1/4 of a cherry tomato and remove the seeds and membrane. Replace with a small chunk of mozzarella or other cheese. Don’t forget tomatoes love to be paired with fresh herbs such as basil or tarragon.
Produce For Quick Sale
Keep your eyes open for the ‘Produce For Quick Sale’ Rack. On this rack you will find produce that might have a bruise or a scratch on it. It is not ‘picture perfect’ but the nutrition is still there. I love this rack at Giant for smoothie and soup ingredients. Thank you to Giant for having this rack and not throwing out imperfect produce.