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Why experts think you should skip the milk and bread and head straight to the produce aisle before an emergency

Bypass the panicked crowds staring bleakly at empty shelves. Fill your cart with the groceries that will carry you through any emergency.

Weather emergencies are no joke. Hurricane season has already begun, and though I've never lived through a bad one, I did make it through this winter's east coast blizzard, and I’ve dealt with plenty of power outages during serious summer thunderstorms. Whenever the weather channel tells me sh*t’s about to get real, I trudge to the grocery store with my reusable canvas bags and my credit card and practically buy out the entire canned foods aisle, plus bread, milk, and bottled water.

Turns out, I’ve been doing it all wrong. I mean, there are plenty of things you should always keep in your pantry (from peanut butter, to crackers, canned tuna, soups and bottled water), but when you’ve got time to shop before a natural disaster strikes, it’s most important to stock up on fresh produce, says Barry Swanson, a food scientist at Washington State University. “You want some nutrients and some fiber—something to keep your diet normal.”

Although you may think of fruit and vegetables as having a shorter shelf life, Swanson says many of them can last for quite a while. Here’s a list of go-to fruits and veggies, and the reason behind why you should be sure and snag a few before the next storm.

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Apples. Skip quick-ripening bananas and reach for long-lasting apples. They’re high in fiber, and can last for up to three months when stored somewhere cool and dry.

Citrus fruits. With high acid content and thick skin, fruits like oranges and grapefruits can last for up to two weeks without refrigeration, particularly if you buy them on the under-ripe side. Plus, think about all that vitamin C you’ll be getting, and the hydration from the juice.

Avocados. Buy this one unripe, and it will last for at least a week at room temperature, providing plenty of vitamins and minerals (and a damn delicious meal during a crisis).

Tomatoes. When purchased unripe, these antioxidant-packed fruits (nope, not a vegetable!) will last for up to a week unrefrigerated.

Potatoes, sweet potatoes, and yams. These tasty root vegetables, loaded with potassium, will last for about a month if stored in a cool, dark place.

Cucumbers and summer squash. These vegetables will last a few days without refrigeration and don’t need to be cooked.

Winter squash. These guys should keep for up to a few months. If you’ve still got access to a working stove (or outdoor grill), cooked squashes such as acorn and butternut are nutritious and delicious.

Assuming you've got a working cooking source, most of these veggies can be cooked up into a yummy soup, but plenty of them can be eaten raw and will last you quite a while. Now, make sure you have plenty of stormy entertainment to keep you busy when you’re not eating!

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