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12 Ways To Make Produce Last Longer

If you're tired of your fruits and vegetables "expiring" in what seems like 72 hours, this can help you out.

Food & Drink

If someone were to ask me what I waste the most money on, on a monthly basis, I ain't gonna lie; I'd have to say produce would definitely top the list. I think a part of the reason is because, as grandma used to say, while shopping, "My eyes are bigger than my stomach" and I end up getting more than I need. Also, it wasn't until last year sometime that I really started to pay attention to what the shelf life for various fruits and vegetables actually are (if you'd like to learn more about that, click here). Plus, it wasn't until a few months ago that I became aware of some of the produce-related hacks that I'm about to share with you; ones that can make your foods easily last double their regular amount of time.

Fresh fruits and veggies are definitely better for your health than anything that is processed. But there's no point in buying produce if you're gonna toss everything out (due to them rotting) before you get around to actually enjoying them (le sigh). If that's the pattern you tend to find yourself in, these 12 hacks for making produce last longer may be an answer to your grocery shopping and budget-related prayers.

Hacks For Keeping Your Fruits & Vegetables Fresh

1. Prep Your Own Guacamole (Kinda)

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Although I'm not exactly sure what the rhyme or reason is for this particular hack, what I do know is I hate the texture of a slimy avocado. The way to keep that from happening is to 1) store it into a plastic container that has a lid and 2) to place a slice of onion in there with it. If you're worried that the smell (or even taste) of the onion will transfer onto the avocado, no worries—miraculously, it won't.

2. Place Mushrooms in a Brown Paper Bag

If you don't plan on eating your mushrooms for a few days, rather than washing them off as soon as you buy them, take them out of their original packaging and then place them into a brown paper bag.

The bag has a way of absorbing any excess moisture that the mushrooms may have so that they don't mold so quickly.

Another tip? Keep the bag away from any foods that naturally have strong odors or flavors (like garlic). Mushrooms tend to absorb whatever it is closest too. (Oh, and yes, you can—and should—rinse off the mushrooms, right before eating them.)

3. Create Olive Oil Ice Cubes

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Want a lot of flavor in your food but don't feel like always having to do a ton of prepping? As far as seasoning goes, something you can try is creating ice cubes out of olive oil, some of your favorite seasonings and fresh herbs. That way, once you're ready to cook, you can just take a couple of cubes out and throw them into your pot or pan. Speaking of seasoning your food, if you use ginger root and fresh turmeric a lot, you might want to store both of them in your freezer; they typically last longer if/when you do.

4. Store Potatoes and Apples Together

Another hack that I can't really explain, I can just tell you that it works, is to put potatoes and apples together. Why in the world would you possibly do that? Well, it's a pretty surefire way to keep your potatoes from sprouting before you actually get around to eating them.

5. Keep Ethylene-Emitting Produce Away from the Rest

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Ethylene is a lot of things. As it relates to what we're touching on today, it's the kind of gas that causes certain foods to ripen at a faster pace. While this can be cool for foods with this type of gas in them (tomatoes, avocados, bananas and honeydew top the list), it totally wreaks havoc on apples, broccoli, cabbage and carrots. That's why it's imperative that you never store these foods together.

6. Don’t Store Tomatoes in the Fridge

When tomatoes no longer have their stems attached to them, it is much easier for air to get in and moisture to get out. That's why it's a good idea to store them at room temperature (out of the sunlight) instead of placing them into your refrigerator.

Also, keep the tomatoes from touching each other as much as possible. Something about them being stacked on top of each other affects their original taste and texture.

7. Put Asparagus in Water

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I don't know about you, but I really enjoy baked asparagus spears. Problem is, sometimes they go bad before I get around to preparing them. A cool way to keep your own asparagus spears fresh for at least 10 days is to cut ¼ in. off of the bottom of the stalks, place them in a cup of water and then put them into the refrigerator. There's something about the extra oxygen and fluid from the water that extends this veggie's shelf life when you do.

Speaking of water, if you put chopped up dried onions and chives in an empty water bottle and then place the bottle into your freezer, that is one way to keep them extra fresh for a longer period of time as well.

8. Keep Nuts and Seeds in the Refrigerator

I'm willing to bet that you probably store your nuts and seeds in your pantry. Problem with that is, the combination of light and heat can result in both getting moldy and stale. You can avoid this by putting both into some airtight containers and placing them into your fridge. Your nuts and seeds will taste so much fresher (and last longer) if you do.

9. Soak Strawberries in Vinegar

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First off, let me just say that, even if you happen to see strawberries in your store year-round, they are really only in season during the summer; more specifically, the entire month of June. That's important to keep in mind because when fruit is sold during its off season, you might be surprised by how many additives, preservatives and artificial coloring are added to them (yuck). That said, if you can't wait until summertime rolls around, just so that you can dig into a bowl of fresh strawberries, but you hate that they seem to go bad within a couple of days, do this. Put 2 ½ cups of water into a bowl, along with a ½ cup of white vinegar. If you soak your berries in this mixture, you'll get about an extra week of time before you'll need to eat them. (This hack typically goes for all berries, by the way.)

10. Dismantle Your Lettuce

Want your lettuce to last longer than 2-3 days? Separate its leaves, place a paper towel between each one, put them into a plastic bag and then store the leaves in the fridge. It'll earn you 5-8 extra days if you do because the paper towels will absorb the moisture that could cause the lettuce to mold.

11. Sprinkle a Little Lemon Juice on a Few Things

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If you want to extend the life of your avocados or you want to keep chopped fruits like apples and bananas from going brown for at least 3-4 hours, sprinkle some fresh lemon juice on them. Long story short, the acid from the lemon keeps the oxidation (browning) of these types of food from happening. Pretty great, right?

12. Keep Fruits and Veggies at 40 Degrees

It's basically a science lesson, why a lot of produce needs to be kept at 40 degrees (there's a full breakdown on the logic behind it here). Bottom line is, in order for your fruits and veggies to stay fresh and delicious, it's important that your fridge is no higher than 40 degrees and no lower than 32 degrees. If you do that—along with the rest of this—you won't have to make a salad as big as your house in under 24 hours, just to make your produce run make sense. Awesome.

Want more stories like this? Sign up for our newsletter here and check out the related reads below:

10 Hacks That Can Make Cooking Easier (If You Hate To Cook)

These Food Trends Are Gonna Be Big In 2020

The Foods You Should & Shouldn't Be Eating On A Plant-Based Diet

10 "Healthy" Foods That Actually, Well...Aren't

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ACLU By ACLUSponsored

Over the past four years, we grew accustomed to a regular barrage of blatant, segregationist-style racism from the White House. Donald Trump tweeted that “the Squad," four Democratic Congresswomen who are Black, Latinx, and South Asian, should “go back" to the “corrupt" countries they came from; that same year, he called Elizabeth Warren “Pocahontas," mocking her belief that she might be descended from Native American ancestors.

But as outrageous as the racist comments Trump regularly spewed were, the racially unjust governmental actions his administration took and, in the case of COVID-19, didn't take, impacted millions more — especially Black and Brown people.

To begin to heal and move toward real racial justice, we must address not only the harms of the past four years, but also the harms tracing back to this country's origins. Racism has played an active role in the creation of our systems of education, health care, ownership, and employment, and virtually every other facet of life since this nation's founding.

Our history has shown us that it's not enough to take racist policies off the books if we are going to achieve true justice. Those past policies have structured our society and created deeply-rooted patterns and practices that can only be disrupted and reformed with new policies of similar strength and efficacy. In short, a systemic problem requires a systemic solution. To combat systemic racism, we must pursue systemic equality.

What is Systemic Racism?

A system is a collection of elements that are organized for a common purpose. Racism in America is a system that combines economic, political, and social components. That system specifically disempowers and disenfranchises Black people, while maintaining and expanding implicit and explicit advantages for white people, leading to better opportunities in jobs, education, and housing, and discrimination in the criminal legal system. For example, the country's voting systems empower white voters at the expense of voters of color, resulting in an unequal system of governance in which those communities have little voice and representation, even in policies that directly impact them.

Systemic Equality is a Systemic Solution

In the years ahead, the ACLU will pursue administrative and legislative campaigns targeting the Biden-Harris administration and Congress. We will leverage legal advocacy to dismantle systemic barriers, and will work with our affiliates to change policies nearer to the communities most harmed by these legacies. The goal is to build a nation where every person can achieve their highest potential, unhampered by structural and institutional racism.

To begin, in 2021, we believe the Biden administration and Congress should take the following crucial steps to advance systemic equality:

Voting Rights

The administration must issue an executive order creating a Justice Department lead staff position on voting rights violations in every U.S. Attorney office. We are seeing a flood of unlawful restrictions on voting across the country, and at every level of state and local government. This nationwide problem requires nationwide investigatory and enforcement resources. Even if it requires new training and approval protocols, a new voting rights enforcement program with the participation of all 93 U.S. Attorney offices is the best way to help ensure nationwide enforcement of voting rights laws.

These assistant U.S. attorneys should begin by ensuring that every American in the custody of the Bureau of Prisons who is eligible to vote can vote, and monitor the Census and redistricting process to fight the dilution of voting power in communities of color.

We are also calling on Congress to pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act to finally create a fair and equal national voting system, the cause for which John Lewis devoted his life.

Student Debt

Black borrowers pay more than other students for the same degrees, and graduate with an average of $7,400 more in debt than their white peers. In the years following graduation, the debt gap more than triples. Nearly half of Black borrowers will default within 12 years. In other words, for Black Americans, the American dream costs more. Last week, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, along with House Reps. Ayanna Pressley, Maxine Waters, and others, called on President Biden to cancel up to $50,000 in federal student loan debt per borrower.

We couldn't agree more. By forgiving $50,000 of student debt, President Biden can unleash pent up economic potential in Black communities, while relieving them of a burden that forestalls so many hopes and dreams. Black women in particular will benefit from this executive action, as they are proportionately the most indebted group of all Americans.

Postal Banking

In both low and high income majority-Black communities, traditional bank branches are 50 percent more likely to close than in white communities. The result is that nearly 50 percent of Black Americans are unbanked or underbanked, and many pay more than $2,000 in fees associated with subprime financial institutions. Over their lifetime, those fees can add up to as much as two years of annual income for the average Black family.

The U.S. Postal Service can and should meet this crisis by providing competitive, low-cost financial services to help advance economic equality. We call on President Biden to appoint new members to the Postal Board of Governors so that the Post Office can do the work of providing essential services to every American.

Fair Housing

Across the country, millions of people are living in communities of concentrated poverty, including 26 percent of all Black children. The Biden administration should again implement the 2015 Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule, which required localities that receive federal funds for housing to investigate and address barriers to fair housing and patterns or practices that promote bias. In 1980, the average Black person lived in a neighborhood that was 62 percent Black and 31 percent white. By 2010, the average Black person's neighborhood was 48 percent Black and 34 percent white. Reinstating the Obama-era Fair Housing Rule will combat this ongoing segregation and set us on a path to true integration.

Congress should also pass the American Housing and Economic Mobility Act, or a similar measure, to finally redress the legacy of redlining and break down the walls of segregation once and for all.

Broadband Access

To realize broadband's potential to benefit our democracy and connect us to one another, all people in the United States must have equal access and broadband must be made affordable for the most vulnerable. Yet today, 15 percent of American households with school-age children do not have subscriptions to any form of broadband, including one-quarter of Black households (an additional 23 percent of African Americans are “smartphone-only" internet users, meaning they lack traditional home broadband service but do own a smartphone, which is insufficient to attend class, do homework, or apply for a job). The Biden administration, Federal Communications Commission, and Congress must develop and implement plans to increase funding for broadband to expand universal access.

Enhanced, Refundable Child Tax Credits

The United States faces a crisis of child poverty. Seventeen percent of all American children are impoverished — a rate higher than not just peer nations like Canada and the U.K., but Mexico and Russia as well. Currently, more than 50 percent of Black and Latinx children in the U.S. do not qualify for the full benefit, compared to 23 percent of white children, and nearly one in five Black children do not receive any credit at all.

To combat this crisis, President Biden and Congress should enhance the child tax credit and make it fully refundable. If we enhance the child tax credit, we can cut child poverty by 40 percent and instantly lift over 50 percent of Black children out of poverty.

Reparations

We cannot repair harms that we have not fully diagnosed. We must commit to a thorough examination of the impact of the legacy of chattel slavery on racial inequality today. In 2021, Congress must pass H.R. 40, which would establish a commission to study reparations and make recommendations for Black Americans.

The Long View

For the past century, the ACLU has fought for racial justice in legislatures and in courts, including through several landmark Supreme Court cases. While the court has not always ruled in favor of racial justice, incremental wins throughout history have helped to chip away at different forms of racism such as school segregation ( Brown v. Board), racial bias in the criminal legal system (Powell v. Alabama, i.e. the Scottsboro Boys), and marriage inequality (Loving v. Virginia). While these landmark victories initiated necessary reforms, they were only a starting point.

Systemic racism continues to pervade the lives of Black people through voter suppression, lack of financial services, housing discrimination, and other areas. More than anything, doing this work has taught the ACLU that we must fight on every front in order to overcome our country's legacies of racism. That is what our Systemic Equality agenda is all about.

In the weeks ahead, we will both expand on our views of why these campaigns are crucial to systemic equality and signal the path this country must take. We will also dive into our work to build organizing, advocacy, and legal power in the South — a region with a unique history of racial oppression and violence alongside a rich history of antiracist organizing and advocacy. We are committed to four principles throughout this campaign: reconciliation, access, prosperity, and empowerment. We hope that our actions can meet our ambition to, as Dr. King said, lead this nation to live out the true meaning of its creed.

What you can do:
Take the pledge: Systemic Equality Agenda
Sign up

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This article is in partnership with Staples.

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