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Use this tool to find out how many fruits and vegetables you should be eating and find recipe ideas.

Video Description: Seven Tips for Cleaning Fruits and Vegetables

Video Transcript:

Announcer: This message is brought to you by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

We can all be healthier and improve our diets by eating more fruits and vegetables.

As with any food product, you have to be careful in how you handle and prepare what you eat.

It’s as easy as washing your hands before touching fresh fruits and vegetables.

Growers and processors are responsible for preventing bacteria in the soil or water from contaminating fresh fruits and vegetables where they are grown or processed.

With fresh-cut produce, like bagged salads or cut fruit, make sure it’s refrigerated or surrounded by ice.

And, don’t buy bruised or damaged fruit. It’s a great place for bacteria to hide and spread rapidly to the rest of the fruit.

While shopping and when checking out, keep your fresh fruits and vegetables separate from meat, poultry and seafood.

…And make sure you’re in the right line.

At home, store fruits and vegetables that require refrigeration immediately in the refrigerator-especially anything that’s pre-cut or peeled. Use a thermometer to ensure that food in your refrigerator stays at 40 degrees Fahrenheit or below.

We all know that we need to wash our hands after handling raw meat and we should also wash our hands after handling produce too.

Cut away damaged or bruised areas on fresh fruits and vegetables before preparing or eating.

And make sure you wash the produce before you eat it-even if you plan to peel it.

If it’s something firm like a melon or cucumber, use a produce brush.

No need to use soap or any kind of produce wash-plain running water is fine.

For precut, bagged items, look on the package-if they are labeled “pre-washed” and “ready to eat” there’s no need for additional washing.

If you’re eating fruits and vegetables raw, keep them separate from foods such as raw meat, poultry or seafood-and the utensils used to prepare them.

This will help avoid cross contamination. Use separate cutting boards for meats and produce as well as for raw and cooked foods.

And finally, wash cutting boards, utensils and counter tops with hot water and soap between the time you prepare raw meats, seafood and poultry and any produce that will be not be cooked.

For plastic or other non-porous cutting boards, run them through the dishwasher when you’re done.

Keeping these common sense tips in mind will not only improve your diet, but also help keep you safe from any foodborne illness possibly associated with fresh fruits, vegetables and juices.

Canning Tips for Beginners

Home canning lets you preserve the summer fruits and vegetables you grew in your garden or bought at the farmers market. The National Center for Home Food Preservation offers these tips for beginners:

  1. Choose proper ingredients including unblemished produce that’s not overly ripe. When recipes call for salt, use only canning and pickling salts.
  2. Use jars and lids specifically designed for canning. Always use new lids; you may re-use jar rings.
  3. Check all jars for chips and cracks before processing.
  4. Use modern, research-tested recipes created anytime after the year 2000 and follow them exactly. Your local Extension office is a great source for reliable recipes.
  5. Select the proper method - use boiling water canners only for fruits, tomatoes and pickles since the temperature of boiling water is sufficient to kill bacteria in these high acid foods. Pressure canning safely preserves low-acid vegetables and meats.

Find more tips on how to preserve your fruits and vegetables.

Small Steps to Improve Your Nutrition

A healthy diet isn’t about looking good in your skinny jeans. Obesity rates are much higher than they were in the 1970s and if you’re obese, you have an increased risk of health problems like type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and some types of cancer. March is National Nutrition Month, here to remind us to make informed, healthy food choices every day.

We can all do a thing or two to improve our diets, and you can start making a few small changes to your diet now. Balancing your calories to manage your weight is important, but remember that your body needs nutrition from food.  By eating less of some foods, like things high in sodium, sugar, and refined grains we have more room in our diets for the things we should eat more of, like vegetables, fruits, and whole grains.

There are many small steps you can take to improve your diet, so put veggies on your pizza instead of pepperoni, snack on dried fruit, and color your plate with salad.