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We've heard that rising food prices are here to stay, and we've recently learned that about a third of the food grown for humans–globally–is going to waste. It's summer here in the Northern Hemisphere, and for many of us that means buying produce by the armful at farmer's markets.

How horrible a feeling is it, then, to spend your money on beautiful, fresh, local fruits and vegetables only to have them go to waste in your own kitchen? Despite the best intentions, it's easy for this to happen. So what can you do about it?

Well, in addition to making sure your don't buy more than you can reasonably consume within the week, knowing the proper way to store your produce can make a huge difference. Below are some tips to help you make the most of your "harvest."

Store in Your Refrigerator's Crisper

Best in a plastic bag: apples, cut cantaloupe, cherries, grapes, asparagus, broccoli, brussel sprouts, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower*, endive, leeks, leafy greens, lettuce, green onions, parsnips, peas*, radicchio, radish, salad mixes, spinach, sweet corn (husk on)

Other: blackberries, blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, mushrooms

Store in the Warmest Part of the Refrigerator (45-50F)

Best in a plastic bag: cut honeydew melon, snap beans, cut cucumber, eggplant, okra, chili peppers, summer squash, sweet peppers

Other: beans

Store in a Dry, Cool Place (55-60F)

garlic, onions, potatoes, sweet potatoes, winter squash, uncut melons, tomatoes

Apricots, Nectarines Peaches, Pears, Plums

Store in paper bags at room temperature until they reach desired softness. Store ripened fruits in refrigerator crisper. Best used one-to-two days after ripened.

Cherries and Berries

Store in a shallow bowl covered with paper towels, then plastic wrap. Use quickly.

Mushrooms

Refrigerate in open container to allow for air to circulate; cover with damp paper towel.

Keep these Foods Separate

These produce a lot of ethylene gas: apples, cantaloupe, honeydew, peaches, pears, plums, ripe tomatoes.

These are sensitive to ethylene gas: asparagus, broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, celery, cucumber, eggplant, endive, green beans, leafy greens, leeks, lettuce, okra, onions, peas, peppers, potatoes, spinach, squash, sweet potatoes, watermelon.

Don't store produce from the two categories together.

Heifer project participants, like Charles Opolot and Hellen Adek of Uganda, are making efforts to reduce their food waste. Let's try to do the same.

Know some other helpful tips to cutting back personal food waste? Add them in the comments section.

Information adapted from "Shopping Farmers Marktes in Arkansas," a brochure created by the Arkansas Department of Health and the Arkansas Food Policy Council.

Author

Brooke Edwards

Brooke Edwards is from Little Rock, Arkansas, and started working at Heifer International in 2009 as a writer. She and her husband raise two daughters in a house way too small for their four pets. They spend a lot of time sweeping.

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