NDSU Extension Service - Ramsey County

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Farmers' Markets Food Safety

Farmers’ Markets Food Safety

            Shopping at the local farmers' market is becoming a habit for growing numbers of Americans. More than one million people purchase goods from their local market each week, supporting 20,000 American farmers in the process, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

            One of the major reasons for the growing popularity of farmers’ markets is the availability of fresh-from-the-farm produce. While supermarket produce often travels 2,000 miles before it reaches its final destination, farmers’ market produce is usually grown no more than 50 miles away.

            But even though farmers’ markets can offer food at the peak of freshness, food safety can still be a concern.  The University of Wisconsin Extension Service has a few reminders to help protect the health of your family and to enjoy fresh produce at its best. 

--Take your purchases home directly from the market.  Avoid side trips that may cause food to decline in quality. Perishable foods like meat and eggs can pose food safety problems if left sitting in your car.

--Different fruits and vegetables require varying temperature and humidity levels for proper storage. Some of the foods that taste best stored at room temperature include melons, onions, potatoes, sweet potatoes, tomatoes and winter squashes. Store them in a clean, dry, well-ventilated place, away from direct sunlight and areas where meat is prepared.

--Ripen some types of produce on the counter and then store in the refrigerator; nectarines, peaches, pears and plums fall into this category.

--Most other fresh fruits and vegetables keep best stored in a clean refrigerator at a temperature of 40 degrees Fahrenheit or below. Use your refrigerator crisper drawer for whole produce. And store fruits in a separate refrigerator drawer from vegetables.

--Store fruits and vegetables in a bag or covered container and keep them away from raw meats to prevent cross-contamination.

--Wash your hands before working with produce.

--Wash produce thoroughly. Rinse it under clean, running water just before preparing or eating. Don’t use soap or detergent as it can get into produce and make you ill. Rub firm produce such as potatoes or apples briskly, scrubbing with a clean brush or your hands to clean the surface. For delicate produce such as berries, rinse well and drain. Dry with a clean cloth or paper towel.

--Aim to buy foods you’ll eat soon, while they’re fresh. Select an amount you can use within a short time.

            For more info on the shelf life of a variety of foods, contact the Ramsey County Extension Office at #662-7027 for a copy of FN-579, “Food Storage Guide”.

 

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