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Postharvest Produce Guide – Introduction

en Español / em Português

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Purple/white eggplant


This produce quality guide is intended to provide a quick visual reference to what constitutes high-quality fruits and vegetables. The Guide enables food hub managers and farmers to develop a mutual language to define the quality of produce expected, and how to provide and maintain optimum produce quality from farm to table. For farmers, whether produce is delivered to a food hub or sold direct to consumer through a farmers market or other outlet, this guide will provide the basic information needed to keep fresh produce at its highest quality after harvest. For the food hub manager, the guide can serve as a quick and reliable way to communicate with the farmer the expected quality of produce at delivery. Keep in mind that proper postharvest handling can only maintain produce quality; it cannot improve the quality of the product once harvested.

Poor-quality produce results in fewer repeat purchases and more landfill waste. It makes good economic sense to provide customers with a quality product they will appreciate and bring them back for more. There are certainly times when weather events or other circumstances result in less-than-perfect produce, and there is always room to educate the buyer and consumer on how the produce is still valuable. For example, sweet corn may need to have the tip removed to address corn earworm feeding, leaving plenty of good fresh corn for the consumer. The Guide is intended as a baseline and starting point for further discussion between farmers, buyers, and the consumer. I hope this information will help farmers and food hub managers in that process.

Paige Burns

November, 2022