How Can I Tell if My Produce is Fresh? Part I Each year, the Environmental Working Group releases their annual “Clean 15 and Dirty Dozen” list—a huge tip off for those looking to buy the most quality, pesticide-free produce available. Eating organically ensures you’re ingesting the smallest amount of pesticide possible, but for many, pricing options make an all-organic diet difficult—that’s where the mix and match method comes in!

The Clean 15 are the fruits and veggies that are OK to buy non-organically—a good washing will make sure any chemicals are rinsed away. The Dirty Dozen, however? Yeah. Probably best to buy organic. But if you’re springing the extra cash for those organic fruits and veggies, you’ll want to make sure they’re as fresh and tasty as possible. Here are some tricks and tips for picking the best organic produce on the notorious Dirty Dozen list.

The Dirty Dozen Freshness Cheat Sheet

Strawberries: A good strawberry is usually bright red, yes, but just because it’s bright red doesn’t mean it’s a good strawberry. Don’t let color give you the slip—the true test is smell! Does it SMELL sweet? Then it probably is. And if you think it smells just a little bit off? No go.

Spinach: Spinach is one of the most telling on our list. The most powerful hint for this leafy green is noting what it shouldn’t look like: wilted leaves, yellowing or browning along the edges or smelling sharp or musky. The greener and crispier, the better—and the longer the shelf life it will have.

Nectarines & Peaches: Blushing red? Doesn’t matter. Pay close attention to the background color of the fruit and around the stem—is it a gold/cream hue with no green or yellowy tinge? Then it’s probably a safe bet. Note the texture and density; the juicier the inside, the heavier the fruit is, and the skin should always be soft but not squishy.

How Can I Tell if My Produce is Fresh? Part I

Apples: How do you pick the biggest, juiciest, sweetest apple? Gently squeeze the apple to test; if it’s really hard, it’s probably dry as a bone. If it’s mushy and soft, you’re looking at a short shelf life and internal damage. Find the middle ground. Of course, always make sure there’s no bruising, indents or spots, and if your apple smells a little like vinegar, just say no.

Pears: As a fruit that doesn’t ripen exclusively on the vine, pears can be tricky. You can’t tell just by looking, and your pear may need a few more days to ripen even after you buy it. A great cheat? Push just slightly on the pear flesh just below where the stem and fruit meet. If it’s slightly yielding, you’ve probably got a delicious pear on your hands.

Stay with us for tomorrow’s Be Well post for Part II and learn how to pick the best out of the remaining six on the Dirty Dozen list.