Wednesday, December 29, 2010

5 Tips to Buying Organic Produce

The Organic Trade Association's newsletter, Organic: It’s Worth It, offers these five tips to help you pick the best organic produce in the store, from Harold Ostenson, organic program manager at Stemilt Growers in Wenatchee, Washington.

Number 9

Look at the PLU (Price Look Up) sticker; if it’s organic, it will start with a 9, followed by four digits. (Genetically modified, or GMO ) fruit PLU codes start with 8 followed by four digits; non-GMO, conventionally grown fruit PLUs have only four digits.)


“Early in the fruit season, look for fruit in the larger sizes; later in the season, lean more toward mid-sized fruit, which will normally result in firmer, crunchier eating experience,” says Ostenson.


“If you plan to eat your fruit soon, look at the calyx or bottom end of the fruit for full color,” he says, which usually indicates full ripeness. The calyx usually looks like a star shaped leaf, like at the bottom of an apple.

Firmness and appearance

Organic apples and pears should be firm to the touch with little to no blemishes on their skin. However, “’blush’ and ‘freckles’ on the exterior of some varieties is very common and certainly not a reason to throw the produce away.”


Once you’ve bought your organic fruit, take care to store it properly at home, says Ostenson. “Apples should be stored in the coldest part of the refrigerator (crisper drawer) and away from strong-smelling foods. The same is true for pears, unless they are too firm. To ripen pears, place them at room temperature. Check for ripeness daily by gently pressing the neck of the pear. Once it gives slightly to pressure, it is ripe and ready to enjoy.”