Light affects nutrients

This article was originally published in March 2012

So you think you’re getting the most nutritious, best produce by reaching to the back of the produce shelves, or by digging to the bottom of a pile on the dry racks? Think again.

A study by U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) scientists suggests consumers may wish to look instead for fruits and vegetables receiving the greatest exposure to light — usually found closest to the front or top of a display.

Researchers found that spinach leaves, for instance, exposed to continuous light during storage were more nutritionally dense than leaves continually in the dark. The researchers say light affects the leaves’ photosynthetic system, resulting in a significant increase in levels of carotenoids and vitamins C, E, K and B9 (folate).

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Hungry Planet - What the World Eats

Imagine your family collected every food and drink it consumes in a typical week — every carrot, every grain of quinoa, every coffee bean, every PCC take-and-bake pizza — and you took a snapshot of it all piled up in your kitchen. What would the photo show? That’s the question you may ask yourself after visiting the Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture’s exhibit, “Hungry Planet: What the World Eats,” which runs through June 10 and is sponsored by PCC.

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