Tips for storing fresh local produce

The summer is a great time to enjoy fresh local produce.
Here in July, blueberries, tomatoes, watermelon and sweet corn are abundant.
While it’s very important to include these types of fresh produce in your diet, you can enjoy the taste better and get more bang for your buck if you know how to properly store your food items.
Here are some tips to store local produce:
* Tomatoes, melons and fruits that come from trees are best left at room temperature to ripen and develop a sweet flavor. Store items out of direct sunlight and you may even use a perforated plastic bag.
* Once fruits are ripe, store them in the refrigerator. Keep produce in perforated plastic bags in the produce drawer. To perforate bags, you can punch holes in the bag with a sharp object.
* Fruits and vegetables should be stored in different drawers because ethylene can build up in the fridge, which speeds up spoilage.
* Many people aren’t sure how long foods will keep in the refrigerator. Vegetables such as carrots, peppers and cabbage will generally remain good in the fridge for 1-2 weeks. Most other vegetables are best eaten within a week.
* The USDA suggests rinsing produce in cold water.
Food waste is a big problem as the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency reports that Americans throw away nearly 31.6 million tons of food every year. A recent University of Arizona study found that the average family tosses 1.28 pounds of food a day, for a total of 470 pounds a year. That’s like throwing away $600.

At Home Fitness consultant Aaron Dorksen’s blog deals with a variety of fitness topics, ranging from workout tips, motivational ideas and feature stories on how exercise impacts people’s lives. E-mail him with comments, questions or ideas for future blogs at