How to pick the best summer produce

A rainbow variety of fresh fruit and vegetables.

When it comes to summer produce, not only does incorporating seasonal fruits and vegetables into your diet taste good, but it can also reduce your risk of cancer. A large 2021 study found that three servings of vegetables (not starchy ones, like potatoes) and two of fruit (not juice) every day resulted in a 10% lower risk of death from cancer.

But let’s face it—there’s nothing worse than shelling out money on produce, only to discover it’s overripe or rotten the next day. For your next trip to the farmers market or grocery store, simplify your selection process with these tips on choosing the best seasonal produce and storing it properly so it lasts as long as possible.


Selection: Select stalks with firm tips and avoid limp or wilted asparagus.

Storage: Trim the tips and place in a glass filled with an inch or two of water—enough to cover the ends—and cover loosely with a plastic bag. Store in the refrigerator for up to a week.


Selection: Ripe avocados are firm but give slightly to gentle pressure. If you don’t plan to consume for a few days, choose firmer avocados.

Storage: Avocados should be stored on a countertop or in a fruit basket. You can speed up the ripening process by storing avocados in a paper bag with a banana. If your avocados are ripe before you’re ready to consume them, store in the refrigerator.


Selection: Do a sniff test! A ripe melon should have a sweet scent and be heavy relative to its size with no bruises.

Storage: Uncut cantaloupe can be stored at room temperature for up to a week. Once cut, cantaloupe should be refrigerated for up to five days.


Selection: Choose ears with green husks, fresh silks and rows of plump kernels. Check out this post for more tips on choosing corn without unpeeling.

Storage: Store in the refrigerator with husks intact and use as soon as possible.


Selection: Eggplants should be dense with no cracks or discoloration.

Storage: Store in the refrigerator for up to one week.

Summer squash and zucchini

Selection: Squash varieties should be shiny and heavy for their size.

Storage: Refrigerate for up to four days.


Selection: The skin should be brightly and consistently colored and firm to the touch. They should be heavy for their size and have a sweet smell. Avoid those with wrinkles.

Storage: There is much debate about tomato storage and how refrigeration may affect flavor. While it is recommended to store tomatoes at room temperature away from sunlight, if your kitchen is on the warm side, you may want to store in the refrigerator once they are ripe.

Remember that each selection is not just a culinary decision but also a step toward a healthier, prevention-forward lifestyle. A healthy diet full of fruits and veggies is a great way to stay ahead of cancer. Learn more ways to reduce your risk of cancer.

For more summer produce tips, check out the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) seasonal produce guide.