Here Are the Best Ways to Keep Your Fruits and Veggies Fresh When Storing Them

By Elena Sheppard

You buy delicious looking produce, bring it home, and before you know it your fruits are rotting and your salad fixings look limp. It’s a food storage fate that befalls us all but that doesn’t make it any less annoying (or any less of a waste of food and money). Well good news: spoiling can be avoided if the proper storing measures are taken. Keeping your food fresh does not have to be complicated, and here are some very easy-to-follow steps we recommend to keep your food fresh.  

Keep your fruits and veggies separate

Most of us buy produce, bring it home, and put it in one of the fridge drawers without worrying about what else is in there. Well, heads up: fruits and veggies shouldn’t really be hanging out. Fruit produces high levels of ethylene which causes vegetables to spoil more quickly. Quick tip: Keep fruits and vegetables apart.

Vegetables need to breath

Storing vegetables in air-tight plastic is a no-no. Vegetables need to breath, so before you store them poke some holes in the bag they’re in. They also need a little room around them, so don’t pack vegetables too tight or they’re likely to rot more quickly.

Don’t treat all fruit the same

Different fruits have very different demands. Non-cherry stone fruits — apples, mangos, pears etc. — can happily ripen on a counter for a few days. Other fruits, like grapes and citrus fruits, should go into the fridge. As for bananas, they ripen fast! When they reach a ripeness you like, try putting them in the fridge to slow the process.

Beware the moldy berry

When you look into your container of raspberries or blueberries you’ll likely see at least one rotten or moldy one: get rid of it. One moldy berry quickens the spread of mold to the whole bunch.

Don’t wash your food until you want to eat it

Dampness hastens bacteria growth, so you’re better off keeping your food dirty; at least until you’re ready to eat it.

Keep tomatoes and potatoes out of the fridge

Refrigerating tomatoes won’t hurt them, but it definitely won’t help their taste. A refrigerated tomato often loses its flavor, its aroma, and becomes mealy. You’re better off keeping tomatoes on the counter. As for potatoes, they like a cool, dark, dry place. The starch in potatoes turns to sugar when too cold, so the fridge is definitely not where they want to be.

Herbs are a little high maintenance

Herbs are tricky. Before you refrigerate herbs it’s good to wash them, dry them, cut of their ends and put them in a glass of water (as if they were flowers) and then stick them in the fridge. If that seems weird, you can do the washing/drying/cutting process and then put them in a ziploc bag with a dampened paper towel. You can also freeze herbs with water in ice cube trays. When it’s time to cook, just pop them out.

And lastly, lettuce

Wilted lettuce is a total downer. To avoid that from happening, put a paper towel over your lettuce (or wrapped around it) and then put it in a plastic bag. This will absorb the moisture and keep the lettuce crisp and fresh.

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What Do the 5 Healthiest Cities In America Eat?

By Matt Rozsa

What makes certain cities healthy and others unhealthy?

The healthiest eaters in America’s large cities are found in the metropolitan areas of:

  1. San Francisco-Oakland (CA)
  2. New York-Newark-Long Island (NY/NJ/CT)
  3. Sacramento-Arden-Arcade-Roseville (CA)
  4. San Diego-Carlsbad-San Marcos (CA)
  5. Washington-Arlen-Alexandria (DC/VA/MD)

These cities all share one trend in their diets: they eat lots of fruits and veggies. On average, the residents in these metropolises eat 34 to 37 servings of fruits and vegetables each week, including 11 to 13 servings of fruit, 5 to 7 servings of green salad, 2 to 4 servings of carrots, and 13 to 15 servings of other vegetables.

By contrast, America’s most obese cities are notorious for their deep-fried cuisines. The three most obese cities in the country are all from the South: Memphis, Birmingham, and San Antonio. As the American Heart Journal has found, a “Southern” style diet is the worst possible choice for your cardiovascular health. 

More than anything, these statistics underscore the importance of maintaining a well-balanced diet. For an intake of 2,000 calories each day, the average person will each day need to consume 6 to 8 servings of grains, 4 to 5 servings of fruits and vegetables, 2 to 3 servings of low-or-no-fat dairy products, 2 to 3 servings of fats and oils, and 6 or fewer servings of lean meats, poultry and seafood. Sweets should generally be avoided to remain under 2,000 calories, although it is okay to have 5 or fewer each week; similarly, one shouldn’t have more than 4 to 5 servings of nuts, seeds, and legumes on a weekly basis.

Because so much of our diet is based around cultural pressures, cities with culinary traditions that mesh with our body’s needs contain healthier citizens. On the other hand, a poor dietary culture — such as one that favors deep-fried dishes, as in the Southern United States — will result in a larger section of the population succumbing to obesity.

If we want to make the public healthier, we need to encourage awareness both of unhealthy cultural traditions that should be reevaluated (and perhaps even modified) and alleviate the financial burdens that prevent low-income individuals from making the healthiest possible eating choices. Sometimes the solution to national problems like the obesity epidemic involve little more than common sense.

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This Is the Real “Orange Flavor” You’ve Been Drinking in Orange Juice

By Matt Rozsa

It’s very easy to be duped by products that sound natural but aren’t. Take orange juice. As long as it’s “100% juice,” that means you’re safe, right? After all, the back of the package says that the main ingredient is “oranges.” How can that not be good for you?

The problem with this assumption is that it grossly misunderstands how orange juice is made, at least when produced on a mass scale. In order to prevent the squeezed juice from spilling, manufacturers heat it up using a process known as “deaeration.” While this helps preserve the liquid itself, it also removes almost all of its flavor… which means consumers at the markets won’t think it tastes or smells like “real juice.”

To get around this, orange juice companies add different “flavor packs.” Developed by perfume companies from oranges and their skins, each company has their own distinct formula that constitutes its individualized “taste.” In North America, this usually involves a high amount of ethyl butyrate; in Mexico and Brazil, the chemicals may be decanals or valencine. Regardless of what you choose, though, the chemicals that add the “orange juice” flavor to your orange juice have been so altered that they barely resemble real orange juice by the time you drink it.

Nevertheless, when you check that orange juice package, it probably won’t indicate that this is the case. According to the FDA’s logic, those flavor packs can be labeled as “oranges” because they initially contained ingredients derived from the actual orange fruit. Comforting, right?

This rule is hardly limited to orange juice. Although “natural flavor” is the fourth most common ingredient listed on food labels, it can refer to substances that contain anywhere from 50 to 100 additional ingredients. Anything from cereal and granola bars to apple juice and organic shakes can be adulterated in this way – an important consideration as you’re reading labels and gauging the nutritional and “natural” value of the product.

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Here’s What the Difference in Egg Yoke Color Means

By Dylan Love

Egg yolks have long been criticized as unhealthy in comparison to their counterpart, the beloved egg white. Until recently, the assessment was that their high cholesterol content was cause to eliminate eggs from one’s diet. But new research and dietary guidelines are challenging the perception that cholesterol contributes to heart disease. So say farewell to egg-white omelettes — the yolk is where the good stuff lives.

In your grocery store’s egg section, you’re confronted with a wall of cartons and adjectives. After picking white or brown, how do you choose between organic, free-range, pastured, grass-fed, farm-fresh, cage-free, and omega-3 eggs? Without these labels, could you even tell the difference?

The answer is yes, but you have to crack them open to do so.

Whether you prefer sunny-side up or scrambled, you probably want to see a perfectly golden-yellow yolk. Egg yolk colors are almost completely dependent on the diet of the hen that laid it (unlike shell color, which depends on the hen’s breed.)

Dark-orange yolk

Hens that produce deeply saturated orange yolks eat a natural diet that might resemble your own: kale, collard greens, broccoli, brussel sprouts, and more. These yolks are especially rich in xanthophylls and carotenoids like lutein, loaded with nutrients, and even antioxidants. While there’s no guarantee, you’re more likely to find these yolks in eggs produced by hens raised in a pasture or free-range, where they have more opportunities to eat pigmented foods.

Orange or golden-yellow yolk

When your yolk color resembles that of a clementine, you have carotenoids to thank. The hen’s diet was made up of yellow and orange plant material, like yellow corn and alfalfa meal, which contain nutritious xanthophylls pigments that are deposited in the yolk. Not only that — their color might contribute to your brain enjoying them more.

Pale or light-yellow yolk

Pale yolks result from a colorless diet. If a hen eats feed made from wheat, barley, or white cornmeal, they may produce yolks that are almost white. Natural yellow coloring may be added to this type of feed to enhancethe yolks, turning them lemon-colored.

Red or pink yolk

Blood-orange, red, or pink yolks can come from hens that eat a lot of red pepper, but they are found most often in South America, where chickens feed on annatto seeds. And if you find just a speck of red in a yolk, it doesn’t mean the egg was actually fertilized. It’s simply a blood vessel that ruptured during formation. If the egg whites are pink, however, you ought to beware: your egg is rotting.

Green yolk

You have cooked your eggs. When left to boil a little too long, your yolks turns green as a result of iron in the boiling water interacting with the sulfur in the eggs. The good news? Green, like other colors, has no implications on the health benefits of an egg — sulfur is just another healthy nutrient found in yolks.

…..

The crucial benefits of egg yolks are their macronutrients — like protein and healthy fats — which are relatively the same in all yolks, regardless of color. However, evidence is growing that pasture-raised hens produce healthier eggs that are higher in omega-3 fatty acids and vitamins A and E. So the next time you fry up an egg to start your day, look for a deep-orange yolk to really kick things off right!

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The Science Behind Why You Should Never Store These Foods Together

By Dylan Love

There’s a science to storing your food for maximum freshness.

All foods are different and have specific storage needs to prevent spoilage. There are some common sense basics around what can or can’t be stored in your fridge, on your countertop, or even in your bread basket. But there’s also a science lurking under the surface, requiring you to be mindful of what you store together

Ethylene gas, or “the ripening hormone,” is the star of the show here. It’s a colorless, odorless, hydrocarbon gas that is almost exclusively produced by your favorite fruit items. Apples, apricots, avocados, ripe bananas, cantaloupe, honeydew melons, kiwifruits, mangoes, nectarines, peaches, pears, plums, and plantains are some examples of foods that are said to be ethylene-producing. Ethylene is essentially a natural plant hormone in gas form, encouraging food cells to degrade and the food itself to ripen. It makes food softer and sweeter, causes leaves to droop, and sprouts to occur.  

While some foods produce this gas, others react to it. When the two neighbor each other, they can interact. For the most part, it is vegetables that are classified as ethylene-sensitive, and it’s a pretty long list: arugula, asparagus, beans, broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, celery, cucumber, eggplant, green onion, kale, lettuce, mushrooms, parsnips, potatoes, and spinach.

By storing your apples and fresh greens in the same refrigerator drawer, you’re actually making the greens spoil faster — the ethylene gas emitted by the apples is tricking the greens into ripening ahead of time. It speeds up the process, so your vegetables turn to rot more quickly when they are exposed to ripe or overripe fruits.

The solution is simple. To avoid untimely spoilage of your fresh produce, don’t store fruits and vegetables together. Keep them in separate drawers and away from each other.

You may have heard that you can’t store potatoes and onions together either. This rule applies for the same reason as fruits and vegetables. Onions are ethylene producers and potatoes are ethylene-sensitive. If you keep them near each other, the ethylene will cause your potatoes to start sprouting little green buds, which you don’t really want to eat.

The release of ethylene gas can actually be used to your advantage in some cases. Sometimes you want to accelerate the ripening of certain foods, which is perfectly cool. The key to doing so effectively is in your storage strategy.

For example, let’s say you just purchased a bunch of tomatoes, and they’re not quite as ripe as you’d like them to be. In order to get them to ripen quickly, place them in a paper bag. Tomatoes are ethylene producers, so they’ll actually speed up the process of their own ripening since you’re trapping the gas in the bag with them. A quick note that this only works with a paper bag — don’t use a plastic bag, because that will trap moisture and actually cause your tomatoes to rot.

These are simple methods for keeping your kitchen produce at its freshest. Consider this list of ethylene-sensitive and ethylene-producing foods when you’re next stocking your shelves. But know the general rule is easy: keep your fruits and vegetables away from each other!

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Here Are the Seasons That Specific Fruits and Veggies Taste the Absolute Best

By Dylan Love

The season of the year and the freshness of your produce are inextricably linked.

You may be unsure of what “in season” means, but the truth is, produce in your grocery store should be reflecting the seasonal harvest. Fruits and vegetables taste better and fresher at certain times of the year when they’re being picked from the fields — yet, your grocery store probably offers the same produce selection everyday.

While fruits and vegetables are available in our grocery stores year-round, that doesn’t necessarily mean they’re fresh. You can truly taste the difference between a freshly picked apple and one that’s been sprayed with chemicals and preservatives to maintain the appearance of freshness. Would you willingly put the latter in your body if you had the option to eat more cleanly?

Eating seasonally, locally, and organically has become a common lifestyle choice and with plenty of reason — there are multiple benefits to eating what’s in season beyond just doing what’s better for your body. Not only does your wallet benefit in the long run, but buying in season also stimulates the local economy. Though the improved taste alone would probably be enough to sway you.

Here’s a couple of seasonal produce highlights to help guide you through the next year:

Fall

Autumn, with its crisp and cool weather, makes us think of pumpkin flavors and warm, hearty meals. Unsurprisingly, pumpkins are a seasonal fall food. Winter squash also hits its prime during September and carries on through early March. Apples are another classic. They’re best harvested between September and November, but you can get them in your grocery store year-round. Other produce items in season include: beets, broccoli, grapes, mushrooms, garlic, fennel, figs, green onions, and potatoes.

Winter

Things get a little interesting around December, January, and February. You’d think that there’s no produce in-season during months where the ground seems to be dead and barren, but some fruits and veggies actually taste better when they’re harvested in cooler months. Broccoli, cabbage, artichokes and some citrus fruits all benefit from harvesting at this time. Such harvests are said to be “frost-kissed.”

Winter is the best time to pick up some citrus fruits: oranges, tangerines, kumquats, pears, kiwifruit, lemons, and persimmons are great choices. They’ll keep you full of vitamins through the cold, dark months. Cranberries are also very much in season during this time and deliciously sweet when cooked thoroughly. Other produce in season during the colder months include beets, potatoes, kale, celery, fennel, and other greens.  

Spring

Spring brings plenty of new fruits and veggies to the table. Spring means that tasty apricots, honeydew melons, and mangos are great additions to your daily fruit intake. They make for great healthy snacks during a spring afternoon. It’s also the season for carrots, which are available in the spring and through the early summer (be sure to buy local and steer clear of the grocery store version of “baby carrots). Other fruits and veggies that thrive during March, April, and May include asparagus, cherries, arugula, mint, fava beans, lettuce, peas, and strawberries (which peak from April through June).

Summer

June, July, and August typically mean lazy days grilling out with friends and family — there are plenty of seasonal items to be had during these months. Watermelon and corn are both seasonal summer produce items that make a great addition to any backyard barbecue. Tomatoes are in season once June hits, but they’re good well through August. Not a bad time to pick some up and slice them for your burgers. Other tasty summer produce includes avocados, okra, cucumbers, berries, peppers, and summer squash.

Happy eating!

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These Ancient Remedies Were Used For Generations Instead of Pharmaceuticals

By Matt Rozsa

When we think of medicines today, our minds tend to wander toward pills composed of synthetic substances and concocted in sterile laboratories. Yet natural substances have a wide range of medicinal properties that have been utilized. These four even date back to ancient Roman times! 

Poppy

Poppy is one of the oldest natural medicines, with its use being traced back to Sumerian drug recipes, ancient Roman texts, military manuals, and medieval medical schools. When the pharmacological revolution occurred in the early 19th century, one of its first milestones was the discovery and isolation of alkaloids from poppy plants in 1806. Extracts have been used as muscle relaxants (particularly to treat diarrhea and abdominal cramping), sedatives, and to create morphine (from the opium poppy).

Ginseng

The ancient Chinese Emperor Shen Nung wrote a book 4500 years ago, “Pen T’Sao,” which includes ginseng among the 365 medicinal plants worthy of being regularly used. Studies have found possible benefits to the immune system, blood sugar levels, concentration and learning, physical endurance, and mood. In addition to this mixture of possible physical and psychological boosts, though, ginseng has side effects that range from the mild (nervousness and insomnia) to the more serious (depression or allergic reactions). As a result, experts suggest that it not be taken for more than three months at a time without a doctor’s recommendation and that it be avoided by pregnant or breastfeeding women.

Aloe

Ancient Egyptian and Roman sources mention medical uses for aloe, and it was well known to be used by medieval Arabs. Its applications range from treating diabetes, hepatitis, arthritis, and inflammation (in the case of aloe gel) to serving as laxatives (in the case of aloe latex). It has also been reported to treat skin conditions like acne, baby rash, and psoriasis, as well as helping heal wounds by improving blood circulation and preventing cell death. That said, it does carry the risk of causing dependency (if used as a laxative) and has enough potential side effects, particularly for individuals who are already sick or are taking medication, that it’s smart to consult one’s doctor before using it for purposes other than applying it to the skin to reduce pain or inflammation or treat diseases and injuries.

Honey

Like aloe, honey has been used to treat wounds since the days of the ancient Romans. Because honey contains enzymes that release hydrogen peroxide, it can help accelerate healing and prevent infection.

These are only a few of the plants and other natural substances that are commonly used as medicine today. Others include St. John’s wort, Ginkgo biloba, garlic, saw palmetto, chamomile, and ginger.

Special thanks to the National Center for Biotechnology Information, Collective Evolution, The Week, Drugs.com, WebMD, University of Maryland Medical Center, and The Mayo Clinic for the information contained in this article.

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These 3 Common Food Additives Are Being Linked to Food Allergies

By Matt Rozsa

If you experience an allergic reaction to certain foods, it may not be because of the foods themselves. Scientific studies have found that food additives — substances which are added to foods to improve their taste or appearance — can cause these allergic reactions. Although most food additives are harmless, some of them can have a harmful effect on the people who eat them, especially when they aren’t aware of what they’re putting into their bodies. 

The most recent additive found to stimulate allergic reactions is (1) tBHQ (or tert-butylhydroquinone), which is commonly found in cooking oils, breads, crackers, waffles, and nuts. As a scientist at Michigan State University discovered, this preservative can also cause allergic reactions to foods like milk, eggs, wheat, nuts, and shell fish. Another additive that has been reported to stimulate allergic relations in a small number of patients (2) are sulphites. These have been used as anti-browning agents during the manufacturing process for many foods, as well as preservatives, and appear in everything from dried fruit and white vegetables to alcoholic beverages like wine and beer and seafood. Certain people with asthma can be hypersensitive to sulphites, and there have been reports of sulphites triggering skin reactions as well.

Sulphites aren’t the only preservatives that have been linked to these kinds of problems. (3) Benzoates and Parabens (which are added to medicines and beverages like sugar free Coke) may cause urticaria, asthma, and angioedema, while antioxidants that are added to prevent spoiling can trigger asthma, rhinitis, and urticaria. Similarly, additives that exist to enhance a food’s flavor can lead to allergic responses, such as the sweetener aspartame (which can cause urticaria, itchy hives, and swelling) and monosodium glutamate (MSG), commonly found in restaurant Chinese food, which can lead to headaches, burning, and a tight sensation in the face, neck, and chest.

It is important to point out that not all people will have allergic reactions to food additives. Indeed, the reactions that have been reported in the past have only occurred in a small number of people. That said, when people eat their favorite foods, they rarely imagine that there are foreign substances completely unrelated to what would naturally occur within that product. This is the risk that one takes when purchasing non-organic materials — namely, that your bread or beer or Chinese food contains more than what you’d naturally assume is there.

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