Standards for selection of vegetables vary with the specific commodity. In general, freshness, uniformity of size, variety, colour, degree of ripeness and freedom from defects are the qualities most frequently sought.
- As with fruits at the peak of season, each vegetable has the highest nutrient content, flavour and is available at a reasonable price. Therefore, seasonal vegetables should be preferred.
- Select fresh vegetables which are firm, crisp, bright in colour, with no visible bruises or signs of decay and wilting.
- Vegetables will usually wither when kept in the sun or kept for too long. So buy fresh vegetables.
- Select clean, young, tender, firm, crisp, brightly green coloured leafy vegetables which are free from flowers, insects, mud and spots or holes in the leaves.
- Do not buy wilted or insect eaten or the ones with white insect eggs on the leaves, which are found on the underside of the leaves.
- Leaves with coarse, fibrous stems, yellowish-green colour, softness (a sign of decay), or wilted condition should be avoided. Also avoid greens with evidence of insects especially aphids which are difficult to wash away.
- Cabbage: In cabbage, the hard, heavy and compact heads free from bruises and worm injury are a good buy.
Roots and tubers:
- When buying root and tuber crops, one should be sure that they are of one variety, well-shaped, smooth and roughly of one size.
- In general, roots and tubers should be firm, heavy, free from bruises, spots, dirt and discolouration.
- Roots and tubers should be free from bruises/ cuts since this makes them rot quickly and the skin should be unbroken and should cling tightly.
- Softness, excessive dirt, scabbiness, sunburn, hollow or black heart, and decay are all objectionable qualities in roots and tuber crops.
- Onions: These should be hard or firm with dry and small necks, reasonably free from green sunburn spots or other blemishes should be selected.
- Potatoes: Select potatoes which are clean, firm, heavy in relation to size, with shallow eyes and are free from sprouts, blemishes, decay and green discolouration. Avoid potatoes with large cuts, bruises, sprouted or shriveled or decay as they will cause waste. Unless early or "new" potatoes are desired, they should be matured.
- Carrots: Select carrots which are well formed, smooth, well coloured, and firm with their green coloured tops.
- These should be generally tender, firm, crisp, bright coloured vegetables free from worm injury.
- Small or medium sized vegetables are likely to be tenderer and less fibrous in texture than large and too mature ones.
- Reject those which are too mature, dry, wilted, shrunken, shrivelled, discoloured vegetables.
- Cauliflower: When purchased should have white to creamy-white, compact, solid, and clean curds Jacket leaves if attached should have good green colour. A smudgy or speckled appearance of the curd is a sign of insect injury, mold growth, or decay, and should be avoided.
- Mushrooms: That are young i.e. small to medium in size should be selected. The surface of the cap should be white or creamy, or uniform light brown if of a brown type. Overripe mushrooms as shown by wide-open caps and dark, discoloured gills underneath and those with pitted or seriously discoloured caps should be avoided.
- Ladies finger: Okra with tender pods (the tips will bend with very slight pressure) under 10-11 cm long. They should be bright green colour and free from blemishes.
- Tomatoes: Select tomatoes which are smooth, well ripened, with an overall rich, red colour and a slight softness and reasonably free from blemishes should be selected.