As summer is upon on, what better time of the year to eat fresh and eat local, especially when it comes to produce?
A farmers market is a great place to find some of the freshest fruits, vegetables, and other foods. It also gives us the opportunity to support local farms and businesses. Some markets offer unique items that you can’t find in a normal grocery store, either.
There are a few food safety tips to keep in mind when you head out to your local market. Many vendors display their items outside where many contaminants can come into contact with what you are purchasing. Be sure to be mindful when it comes to overall cleanliness, and watch out for glove use, covered garbage cans, and proper food handling techniques. Once you bring your purchases home, remember to follow these guidelines to keep you and your families safe:
- Reusable bags: Reusable grocery totes are an eco-friendly choice to transport food, but when was the last time you washed yours? Was them often, otherwise you run the risk of bacterial growth that can easily contaminate your foods. Most can be put in the washing machine, and be sure to clean all surface areas that the bags come into contact with. Remember, too, that the trunk of your car is a breeding ground for bacteria in the summer heat!
- Fruits and Veggies: Be sure to wash all of your fruits and vegetables under running water before eating, cutting and cooking. Dry with a paper towel to further eliminate bacteria. Once you cut or peel your produce, try to refrigerate within 2 hours. Also, avoid buying produce with mold, bruises or cuts. These areas are great places for bacteria to hide and spread.
- Cheeses, Milks and Eggs: Only buy pasteurized milk products. Be sure that soft cheeses such as feta, brie, queso freso and Camembert are made from treated milk, as well. Be sure to chill your eggs immediately to 45 degrees F, and choose eggs that are clean and without cracks.
- Meats: When buying meats, be sure to pack a cooler with plenty of ice. Insulated bags can help with your commute home. Keep meats away from ready to eat foods, so come prepared with separate shopping bags.
Food safety will make your farmers market experience more enjoyable! Local, fresh and safe are the best ways to shop this summer.