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Food Waste Prevention: Storage

fruit and veggiesFood waste is a significant problem. Americans throw away approximately $165 billion worth of food each year, according to a recent study by the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC). The good news is that we can implement changes that can make a big difference.

During the month of September, SPU will be featuring tips to prevent food waste. This week, we will talk about ways you can prevent food waste at home.

When most Seattle residents think of food waste, they think of composting. While composting food scraps is fantastic (and required in Seattle), it is even better to eat the food we purchase than to compost it. Why? When you throw away an apple, you’re also throwing away all of the water, energy, and other resources used to grow that apple and get it to your plate! Once you have thoughtfully purchased your food, proper storage will keep it fresh so that you have the maximum amount of time to use it.

Below are tips on how to properly store some common fruits and veggies.

Vegetable Storage


  • Remove bands and ties. Store upright in a glass of water with a plastic bag over the top in the fridge.


  • Wrap in a damp towel and store in your fridge’s crisper drawer.


  • Store loose in the fridge.


  • Store in a paper bag in the fridge.


  • Store in a sealed container with a dry towel in the fridge.

Fruit Storage


  • Store in a shallow container lined with a dry towel in the fridge; leave lid slightly cracked for air circulation. Wash only when ready to eat.
  • Berries can be more susceptible to mold than some other fruits, and too much moisture is often the culprit. Storing in an unsealed container increases air circulation and helps prevent mold, as does washing only prior to eating.

Citrus Fruits

  • Store loose in your fridge’s crisper drawer.

Grapes, Peaches, Melons, and most other fruit

  • Ripen on the counter, then store in the fridge.


  • Store loose in the fridge.

Wondering why you sometimes need the help of a damp towel or a paper bag? Damp towels help maintain proper humidity for produce that require more moisture, while paper bags do the opposite — they absorb excess moisture without letting produce dry out completely.

So now that your produce has been stored for maximum freshness, what should you cook up? Next week we’ll feature recipes and tips for making the most of your food. Can’t wait? Check out our food waste prevention resources here.

For more vegetable and fruit storage tips click here.
If you can’t eat food before it goes bad, you can freeze it for later use — but this shouldn’t happen because you used our tips from last week for planning and shopping efficiently.