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You’d think that grocery shopping would be one of the easier things in life. A simple necessity, the process of choosing and buying food is practically a family tradition for many people, and certainly was for me. I remember countless trips to the grocery store with my family as a child, and it’s something we all have to continue doing as adults, yet a surprising number of us still don’t really know how to grocery shop. This may sound odd at first, but it’s taken me a lot of trial and error to learn how to choose a fresh and ripe fruit or a tender vegetable, and I know I’m not the only one.

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When shopping for food, the produce aisle should be your best friend. It’s in this section of the store where you’ll find foods in their most whole and pure form, something our body appreciates and uses much better than processed and chemical-filled foods. Certain foods can help you in the fight against cancer, cleanse your liver, and even raise your vibration, and women can even ease their menstrual pain by choosing to eat certain foods during that time of the month. And if you’d like to take your produce shopping to the next level, choose organic so you can avoid the added pesticides and hormone-disrupting chemicals.

I’ve compiled a list of some food hacks for those of us who may need a little more direction, or maybe a refresher for those well experienced produce shoppers.

How to choose…

The Perfect Watermelon

  • A watermelon is about 92% water, so pick it up! It should feel heavy for its size.
  • Inspect it for a yellow spot. Watermelons develop a spot where they rest on the ground. When this spot is creamy yellow, it indicates it spent more time on the vine sweetening up, meaning it’s ripe. If that spot is white or the melon doesn’t have a spot at all, it’s underripe.
  • The surface should be pretty hard/firm. If the flesh is soft, it’s likely going to produce a dull thud when you knock it. If it’s ripe, it will produce a deep, hollow sound.
  • If it has a shiny appearance, it’s underripe. This applies to honeydew melons as well.
  • Look for an evenly shaped melon. Oval or round are also perfectly fine, but if it has uneven lumps, it may have had inconsistent access to sun or water. TIP: Oblong watermelons are male, and the round, spherical ones are female. Female watermelons tend to be sweeter, while the males tend to be juicier.
  • Grey/brown squiggles on the surface of some watermelons are marks that occur due to pollination, and also indicate a sweet melon.
  • If it has a stem, it’s best to pass, because it was likely picked early — unless the stem is brown and about to fall off.

The Best Bell Peppers

  • Female peppers have four bumps and are full of seeds. These are best to eat raw, as they are sweeter.
  • Males have three bumps and are better for cooking.
  • Look for a glossy sheen and no shrivelling, cracks, or soft spots.
  • Bell peppers should feel heavy for their size, indicating fully developed walls.
  • They develop a stronger flavour when cooked; overcooked, they are bitter.
  • Store sweet peppers in a plastic bag in your refrigerator’s crisper drawer. Green ones stay firm for a week; other colours soften in three or four days.
  • Red peppers are simply mature green peppers; yellow and orange peppers are different, sweeter varieties.
  • Peppers should be firm when you buy them.

The Freshest Beets

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  • Small, young beets (about 1 1/2 inches in diameter) are tender and cook in less time than larger ones.
  • Small, young beets are tasty grated raw in salads.
  • Select beets that are firm with smooth, hard, skin that is dark red or golden yellow, depending on the variety.
  • The surface should be unbruised and free of cuts.
  • If you plan on cooking the leaves, make sure they are bright green or at least dark green.
  • If the leaves are removed, be sure that at least 1
  • tomatoes if you can. Ripe tomatoes are fragrant, but even mature green ones should have a mild fragrance that promises future ripeness. If there is no aroma, it’s likely to have been picked immaturely and will never properly ripen.
  • Fully ripe tomatoes are soft and yield to the touch; buy them only if you plan to use them immediately.
  • Once ripe, tomatoes will last two to three days.
  • Overripe tomatoes are perfect for making sauce or roasting.
  • Size doesn’t affect flavour, texture, or quality.
  • Keep tomatoes at room temperature on a plate; never in a plastic bag.

Do you know any great tips and hacks for choosing other fruits and vegetables? Please share in the comments below!

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