Foodie Tuesday: Harvest – Select the Best Produce

How many times have you wandered the produce isle self-consciously sniffing melons or squeezing avocados, unsure of what’s ripe and what’s rotten? Do you ever wonder which fruits and vegetables are worth spending extra money buying organic to avoid high levels of pesticides? If I look in your fridge right now, will I find moldy berries, limp salad greens or a forgotten avocado way paste its prime? If you answered yes to any of these questions, you need to check out Harvest — a pocket guide to selecting and storing fresh fruits and vegetables.

To learn more about how to tell if your melon is ripe, keep reading.

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Getting Started

Harvest was created with one goal in mind: providing an on-the-go guide to help users select and store fresh fruits and vegetables. Simple design and an easy-to-use interface are key to a reference app, where it’s all about finding specific information quickly. Launch the app and you’ll find the Produce Guide, an alphabetical list of all 126 fruits and vegetables. The creators have done a good job keeping design minimal and clean, so much so they’ve forgotten to have fun. This app is dedicated to produce — a juicy, colorful subject full of sunshine and sweetness. It seems they could add a bit more color and life to the design.

The home screen is an alphabetized list of 126 fruits and vegetables, including everyday produce like apples and bananas, as well as exotic items like dragon fruit and guavas.

The home screen is an alphabetized list of 126 fruits and vegetables, including everyday produce like apples and bananas, as well as exotic items like dragon fruit and guavas.

The app includes an impressive variety of produce, from everyday apples and bananas to exotic dragon fruit and guavas. So many reference guides fail because the information is too basic, telling users things they already know. Harvest does a great job giving users a comprehensive guide to any fruit or vegetable they are likely to find in large supermarkets or regional farmer’s markets. The app provides three options for quick and easy browsing of produce: the search filter by name, scrolling through the list or selecting a letter from the alphabet to jump through the list. It’s effective and straightforward, but could do a better job utilizing the mobile interface in a fun and novel way to engage users.

The Produce Guide

Tap on a fruit or vegetable to find handy tips on judging its quality and ripeness. Some apps can be all fluff and no useful information, but Harvest gives users solid instructions that they can put into practice for positive results. For example, melons can be a real source of consternation for people — how do you know if it’s ripe? Dropping a good bit of hard-earned cash on a bad melon can be so frustrating. Harvest encourages users to look at the color, feel the webbing on the melon’s surface and sniff the stem in search of a sweet melon perfume. Using this app is guaranteed to make you a more competent confident cook.

Tap on a fruit or vegetable from the list for handy tips on judging its quality and ripeness. The app gives users plenty of information on when the produce is in season and how it should look, feel and smell.

Tap on a fruit or vegetable from the list for handy tips on judging its quality and ripeness. The app gives users plenty of information on when the produce is in season and how it should look, feel and smell.

Harvest also includes tips on how to ripen perishable produce that is usually sold under ripe, as well as how to store ripe produce to prolong its life. Each entry gives the peak season to help you know when to find the fruit or vegetable when it is tastiest. One complaint is the lack of photographs. At the top of every produce guide is a smushed banner photo of the produce. The image is so small you can’t even make out what it is. It seems a proper photograph of every ingredient would be valuable to users, and I hope to see this in future updates.

Tap on the Storing button in the top right corner for some great tips on keeping produce fresh and minimizing waste by storing the item properly.

Tap on the Storing button in the top right corner for some great tips on keeping produce fresh and minimizing waste by storing the item properly.

Flip between the Selecting and Storing guides by tapping the button in the top right corner. The How to Store page is key to Harvest’s mission: paying for itself by saving you money. You’re guaranteed to find new and helpful information on prolonging the shelf life of your produce and preventing waste. For example, did you know basil turns black when stored in the fridge? Or that the beautiful sweet taste of corn can drop by half if it’s kept at room temperature for one day? Use Harvest for one week and I guarantee you’ll be more thoughtful when it comes to storing fresh produce — no more moldy berries or wilted broccoli lurking in the back of the fridge.

Know Your Pesticide Levels

The main complaint of buying organic is that it’s expensive and some folks simply can’t afford it. When the Environmental Working Group published a list of the “dirty dozen” featuring fruits and vegetables with the highest levels of pesticides it meant if people couldn’t afford to always buy organic they could still minimize their exposure to harmful chemicals by purchasing organic produce strategically. Relying on guidelines from the Environmental Working Group, Harvest rates each fruit and vegetable by how high or low its pesticide residue. You can find this rating in each selection guide, or view all the produce listed from high pesticide levels to low on the Pesticide Levels page.

Tap the Pesticide Levels button at the bottom of the screen to view all the produce from highest amount of pesticide residue to the lowest amount to help you decide when it’s worth the extra cash to buy organic.

Tap the Pesticide Levels button at the bottom of the screen to view all the produce from highest amount of pesticide residue to the lowest amount to help you decide when it’s worth the extra cash to buy organic.

While the information is valuable, again the design is severely lacking. A simple grayed out bar depicts the pesticide levels, not making much of a visual impact. How do they expect users to be impacted by this information and take it to heart if the design is so lacking?

Conclusion

The creators of Harvest have done a great job of identifying a common problem and offering an on-the-go solution that’s very conducive to a mobile interface. The information on how to select and store produce (including the section on pesticides) is useful and accurate. Reference apps often leave you wondering where the information came from and why the source should be trusted, but Harvest openly shares its source, lending it credibility. The app does what it promises, helping users make delicious choices in the produce department, saving money and preventing waste.


Summary

Harvest is a handy quick-reference tool to help you select the best produce and store it properly, minimizing waste and making you more confident in the fruit and vegetable department.

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