Fruits and Veggies 101 - IDHS 4590

State of Illinois
Department of Human Services

Tips to make the most of your Fruits and Veggies


  • Shop early - This will allow you to find the best selection of fresh produce.
  • Choose in-season fruits and vegetables - The closer you are to the growing season, the fresher your produce and the better it tastes.
  • Check for freshness - Look for brightly colored fruits and vegetables. Leaves or greens should be crisp, not wilted.
  • Large does not mean better - Larger sized vegetables may be too mature and have little flavor.
  • Bag properly - Place the heavier, firmer produce at the bottom of the bag or basket.


Store produce right away to prevent spoilage.

  • Most fruits will not continue to ripen if they are refrigerated. This is true for tomatoes as well.
  • These fruits should be refrigerated:
    • Apples
    • Berries
    • Grapes
    • Melons
  • Potatoes and onions will lose quality in the refrigerator.
  • Punch holes in plastic bags before storing.


  • Just before preparation give your produce a good washing in cold water.
  • When cooking firm produce with tougher skin, scrub with a brush.
  • Allow leafy greens to float in clean water.
  • Soaps or cleaners are not needed -water does the job.


Heat and too much water can destroy important vitamins. Limit cooking time and water.

Speed up the Ripening process

  1. Place fruit in a large paper bag.
  2. Punch several holes in the paper bag.
  3. Do not stack pieces of fruit on top of each other.
  4. Fold the top of the bag.
  5. Leave the bag on the counter top.
  6. Check on fruit daily.

Food Safety

  • Wash your hands before preparation.
  • Keep fresh fruits and vegetables stored away from raw meats.
  • Wash cutting board, utensils, and counter tops with hot soapy water.

Benefits of Fruits and Vegetables

Buying fruits and vegetables at your Farmers' Market provides you with healthy foods, physical activity and fun for the family.

Farmers' Market List

Fruits Veggies


University of Nebraska Extension

University of Illinois Extension

Agency use:

For more information:

Call or visit your local Illinois Department of Human Services office.

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You may speak to a representative between:

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Monday - Friday (except state holidays)

For answers to your questions, you may also write:

Illinois Department of Human Services

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100 South Grand Avenue East

Springfield, Illinois 62762

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This institution is an equal opportunity provider.

IDHS 4590 (R-08-18) Fruits and Veggies 101 Printed by the Authority of the State of Illinois. 50,000 copies P.O.#19-0112