Wisconsin’s Healthy Produce and Nutrition

Beth Olson
Extension Nutrition Specialist
Department of Nutritional Sciences
University of Wisconsin-Madison, Division of Extension

More information about choosing and using fresh fruits and vegetables is available at https://go.wisc.edu/87v818

Total Time:  5:13

0:12 – Produce in Season
0:53 – Nutritional benefits of fresh produce
1:41 – Frozen produce
2:15 – Seasonal differences in produce
3:05 – Extension resources for produce
4:21 – Tips, Tricks, and Beth’s produce
5:02 – Lead out



Adam Wigger: “Wisconsin’s healthy produce and nutrition.” We’re visiting today with Beth Olson, Extension Nutrition Specialist, Department of Nutritional Sciences, University Wisconsin-Madison, Division of Extension, and the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences, and I’m Adam Wigger. Beth, what kinds of produce are in season right now?

Beth Olson: Lots of stuff is in season right now, we’re probably in the height of the produce season for people’s backyard gardens. It could be there’s a few things that are starting to be passed. Maybe some of the berries although some things like raspberries will bear again. But the greens and vegetables in particular are tomatoes, green beans, peas, and many other products are in season now. I think one that’s really great right now is corn on the cob. I think almost everybody understands that you know you pick up the corn on the cob that came out of the field today and got it from the farm stand. It’s going to be delicious and fresh on your table this evening. 

Adam Wigger: So you’re the Extension nutrition specialist, what does this produce mean for nutrition or what kinds of benefits do we get for our nutrition from this produce? 

Beth Olson: Eating whole foods is one of the best ways to improve our health. By that I mean foods like fresh produce: apples and greens and instead of foods that are more highly processed. And right now since there are so many things are in season, these are also delicious and tasty and readily available. It’s perhaps from your backyard if you’re a gardener, perhaps from a farmer’s market or a roadside stand. But even in our grocery stores, there’s lots of fresh produce available that would be healthy – provide micro nutrients and fiber and it’s low in calories and fat so just contributes a lot to having a healthy diet.

Adam Wigger: So you just mentioned before we started recording produce that is still really good for you but that’s not necessarily fresh. What did you mean by that? 

Beth Olson: Yes so sometimes we don’t have access to fresh produce or we have a recipe that’s going to use something that isn’t in season right now. And so canned and frozen vegetables are also an excellent source of nutrition. There’s something you can throw in the freezer and have quick if you don’t have time to make something fresh. And as long as you pay attention to the ingredients and make sure there isn’t a lot of sodium or sauces or fat – they’re also an excellent choice.

Adam Wigger: So as we’re moving it kind of out of this summer season into the fall season what should we be looking for produce-wise, nutrition-wise, anything kind of seasonally that you might see? 

Beth Olson: Of course a lot of the more what we might call winter vegetables might be available. So things like pumpkins and squash and cabbage. We will run out of some of the things like berries won’t be as available but as we talked about a little bit before some of those things then will be available in the supermarket being imported from other places and so that’s one of the benefits of some of our supermarkets today is they can access fruits and vegetables that are out of season so that we can continue to have things like citrus fruits which are high in vitamin C throughout the winter and not just have them in summer not just if you live in Florida. 

Adam Wigger: What kinds of resources are available for people to look up or any point of contact for produce and intuition? 

Beth Olson: So here at UW Extension we have The Learning Store and we just in fact recently put in a number of fact sheets on using fresh fruits and vegetables. They’re just one sided, they tell how to select a fruit or a vegetable, how to store it, how to prepare it. And those would be an excellent resource for people to get ideas on how to use some of the things that they’re seeing, for instance at the farmer’s market but we also want people to do this safely. And so one of our Extension specialists, Barb Ingham, has a site called “Safe and Healthy: Preparing and Preserving Food at Home,” within the Division of Extension. And it talks about how to use produce safely. So she has lots of resources on how to clean and rinse produce to reduce your chances of having a foodborne illness. But she also has lots of excellent resources if you would want to preserve food. So now we might have – you might have an abundance of tomatoes from your garden and you can’t eat them all and you wish to can them or freeze them. She has lots of tips on how to do that and how to do that safely.

Adam Wigger: Do you have any tips or tricks for nutrition or maybe what fresh produce you’re a big fan of this season?

Beth Olson: So I’m a big fan of corn on the cob and raspberries. Those are two of my favorites. I have some raspberries in my yard. They’re not doing so well because they’re not in a spot that sunny enough. But I do love that and I think one of the messages we use a lot in nutrition on many things is variety in moderation. So in fruits and vegetables we also say eat the rainbow. So as many different colors of fruits and vegetables the widest variety that you have access to that provides the widest variety of nutrition as well. And of course a lot of variety in tastes and the ways that you can use them in your meals. So I would say variety, moderation, and eat the rainbow. 

Adam Wigger: Thanks Beth. We’ve been visiting today with Beth Olson, Extension Nutrition Specialist, Department of Nutritional Sciences, UW-Madison, Division of Extension, and the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences, and I’m Adam Wigger. 

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