Some people might not love eating them, but fresh vegetables are essential to a balanced diet. Having trouble picking them? Here's how to shop for America's 10 most popular vegetables


At the top of the list we have the marvelous potato. They fall into three different categories:

Starchy - Potatoes like russet potatoes are high in starch content and will produce a milky film when you cut into them. They're are great for baking, frying, and pair well with butter/cream sauces.

Waxy - If a potato is "waxy," it'll be easy to scratch off the skin. Waxy potatoes, such as red ones, are usually used in soups, stews, and potato salad. 

"All Purpose" - Potatoes such as Yukon Golds have a medium starch content and can be used in almost any dish. 

Look for - Firm potatoes with as little blemishes as possible. If they're not wet and have a fresh dirt scent, that's a good thing.

Avoid - Leave potatoes with bruises, cuts, and soft parts in the bin. If you see little sprouts coming out of it, it's nature's way of telling you that it should've been eaten already. (They're still ok to eat once you cut the sprouts off.) When potatoes start to have a slight green coloring, it means that it has been exposed to fluorescent light and chlorophyll has formed. This will give the potato a slight bitter taste, but cute it off and it'll still be good to eat. 


Though technically a fruit, tomatoes are also scientifically known as lycopersicon lycopersicum, which means wolf peach. 

Look for - Pick firm, plump tomatoes that are a consistent color. If you're buying a large tomato and see patches of yellow or green on the skin, it means that it was ripened after being picked. Like ripe watermelons, tomatoes should also feel heavy for their size. All tomatoes should have an strong scent, if there's no smell there will be no flavor.

Avoid - Don't pick tomatoes that are soft or have wrinkled skin. Pale tomatoes should also be left, pick tomatoes that have a richer and deeper color. If you're buying tomatoes off the vine, browning leaves and stems mean that the tomatoes aren't fresh. At the supermarket, search for tomatoes near the top of the pile because the ones underneath are more likely to be bruised.

cherry tomato, tomato, pasture, cherry, vegetable
Caroline Ingalls


Did you know that freezing a peeled onion for 20 minutes before use or keeping a piece of bread between your lips when chopping an onion will keep you from tearing?

There are two main types of onions; green onions (such as scallions and leeks) and dry onions. Dry onions don't need to be to be put in the fridge. When storing, keep them away from potatoes because the gas they give off will speed up the spoiling process of the onions.  

Look for - Firm, dry onions that have shiny, tissue paper thin skin. The top of the onion should also be tight and dry. Pick onions that have a very mild scent. 

Avoid - Avoid onions that are blemished, bruised, discolored or have any soft/wet spots. 

If a recipe calls for "chopped onions," use yellow onions. Yellow onions, such as Spanish Onions, are not too sweet or sharp. White onions have a very mild flavor and will usually be used raw. If a recipe calls for red onion, there is no substitute for it's flavor, so don't go looking. 


When cooking with carrots, you'll find that the ones sold in bags will be sweeter. Bagged carrots are usually stored and refrigerated for a longer period of time, assisting the cold environment convert the carrot's starch into glucose. Carrots that still have their tops will have a deeper, richer flavor. 

Look for - Carrots should be firm, crisp, and have a smooth skin. If you're buying carrots that have green tops carrots, make sure the stems and leaves are a bright green color. 

Avoid - Don't pick carrots that have are bendable/soft, have dark spots, or are split. If the top of a leafless carrot is brown, this means that the vegetable is old. 

carrot, vegetable, pasture, farmer's market
Caroline Ingalls

The darker the orange color, the more beta carotene it will have. Remember not wash carrots until you're ready to use them!


Not all lettuce is made the same. Keep in mind that the darker the lettuce (green leaf/romaine lettuce vs. iceberg lettuce), the better it is for you. There are three main types of lettuce; iceberg, romaine, and green/red leaf. The green/red leaf lettuce tends to have thinner leaves and a slightly bitter taste.  

Look for - Any type of head lettuce should be symmetrically shaped. Choose a head that has healthy, intact, dark/vivid green leaves. Iceberg lettuce should be compact and firm as well. 

Avoid - Stay away from large heads of romaine, which may have tough, fibrous leaves. Make sure to avoid leaves that are slimy, wilted or have brown edges.

You want lettuce that has been picked as recently as possible. Remember to look for lettuce that has a freshly cut base! 


Did you know that one cup of chopped broccoli has same amount of vitamin C as an orange? One cup of raw broccoli will also give your entire recommended Vitamin C intake for the day. 

Look for - Choose broccoli that has compact, bright green florets. (Florets are the clusters on the top of the stems.) The older the broccoli is, the more open the florets will be. Choose stalk should be firm, as if it would make a crisp snapping sound if you were to break it.

Avoid - Walk away from broccoli that has a stem that is turning brown or is dried out. Do not purchase broccoli if the florets are turning yellow. However, if the broccoli is a little yellow, it can certainly be used in making soups and stocks. 


Bell peppers are actually not related to the plant that produces the seasoning black pepper. Black pepper comes from the peppercorns, which are the picked and dried before the pepper berry becomes fully mature. Bell peppers and black pepper are also both different from white pepper.

Look for - Bell peppers usually come in four different colors; green, orange, red, and yellow. Red peppers are green peppers that have matured. Orange and yellow bell peppers are sweeter than red/green ones. Regardless of color, look for bell peppers that have taut, bright, blemish free skins. They should be firm and have no bruises.

Avoid: Avoid bell peppers that are shriveled or have any soft spots. Green peppers can be stored in your fridge for about a week while orange, red, and yellow peppers can be left for four to five days. 


Did you know that April is National Fresh Celery Month? Celery was also given as a "bouquet of flowers" to reward the victors of the athletic games in Ancient Greece. 

Look for - When buying fresh celery, choose the ones that have firm, compact stalks. Leaves should not be wilted, but fresh with  a bright, light green color. 

Avoid - Celery with big stalks will be tougher, so pick ones that are smaller, as they will be more tender. The stalks should not be hard to break off. If the celery has yellowing leaves, it means that it is older. Celery hearts are the inner stalks of the plant that have a milder flavor. While slightly lighter in color, the same rules apply to choose celery hearts. 


The term “cool as a cucumber” is actually derived from the cucumber’s ability to cool the temperature of the blood, which can explain why cucumbers have become so popular in beauty regiments. 

Look for - When buying cucumbers, pick the ones that are firm and have a dark green skin. Typically, the lighter the shade of green, the older the cucumber. Pick cucumbers that are smaller in size and thinner in girth. Smaller varieties of cucumbers typically contain less seeds as well. 

cucumber, vegetable
Alex Frank

Avoid - Feel the cucumber and make sure that there are no soft or spongy parts. Cucumbers often are covered in wax to maximize their shelf life, so feel free to scrape away the wax to check. Cucumbers are also especially prone to losing their moisture so put them in a plastic bag before storing them in the front of your fridge.  

*Life hack alert*

If you are ever out and and realize that you forgot breath mints? Ask your waiter for some sliced cucumber with your meal (or lemon in your water). By pressing a slice or cucumber to the roof of your mouth for 30 seconds will eliminate bad breath. The phytochemicals in the cucumber kill the bacteria that are responsible for causing bad breath.

10. CORN

Did you know that corn is actually a domesticated grass that does not exist in the wild? The corn we eat is "sweet corn" and is the seed of a type of grass.   

Look for - While peeling away the husk of corn is the most efficient way to pick the perfect cob, it will make you victim to dirty stares at the store. Peeling away the husk will also make the kernels shrivel up and become starchy faster. 

Before peaking behind the husk, feel the kernels through it. If there are any holes or anything that feels soft, choose another one. The tassels on the top should moist and slightly sticky to the touch. If they are dry and black, it is old. 

Avoid - Avoid husks that are not tightly wrapped around the corn. The husk should be bright green and slightly damp.