Rachel Nania, wtop.com
WASHINGTON - The summer season brings about a variety of produce, and purchasing produce locally can be healthier, tastier and less expensive for consumers.
Food lawyer and expert Mary Beth Albright offers a variety of tips and information for purchasing an early summer favorite -- strawberries.
While strawberry season is typically at its peak in May, strawberries are just coming in to season in the D.C. area, due to a cooler spring. Consumers looking to get the best deal on strawberries should buy them now.
"When you shop seasonally, produce is less expensive," says Albright.
One of the best places to buy produce -- and strawberries in particular-- is at a local farmers market, where growers are less likely to use pesticides.
"Strawberries are a very pesticide heavy crop. When you buy non-organic strawberries, you're probably going to buy a strawberry with a dozen -- at least - - different kinds of pesticides in them," says Albright.
She explains that strawberries are typically treated with pesticides because they are very fragile and very prone to fungus.
"When you buy your strawberries from a farmers market, most of the farmers around here are not using those pesticides and the strawberries are going to taste fabulous," Albright says.
It's very important to look for strawberries that are bright red, have very bright green tops and a fragrant smell.
For those looking to score the best deal possible, Albright recommends going to the farmers market right before it ends. Often times, the farmers don't want to take their products back with them, so they are more willing to offer their food at a discounted price.
"They've got all their produce left over and they don't want to drive it back to the farm with them, so you can offer them $20 for a whole lot and make strawberry jam or something like that," Albright says.
But make sure you eat your purchase up quickly. Produce from the farmers market will most likely go bad faster than produce from a grocery store, due to the lack of pesticides.
"It's a better way to eat and it's more delicious, which is what I always come back to," Albright says.
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