The array of greens on the market keeps growing, along with innovations in rooftop farming and aquaponics make a sprightly salad possible almost any time of year. Whenever you can, look for seasonal or local greens. Both are more likely to be fresh than supermarket produce. Farmers’ markets or stores that stock local produce are good places to start.

To find out what’s fresh in your market, check the Department of Agriculture website for your state. Most departments publish seasonal produce charts. You might stumble upon a locally grown green you wouldn’t normally consider for your salad.

If that’s not available to you, it’s fine to buy prepackaged greens: If doing so means you’ll eat salad more often, that’s a net gain. But note that expiration dates are no guarantee of freshness. You’ll want to rely on your eyes, and check the package carefully on all sides to ensure there is no sign of browned or wilted leaves. Yellow or brown patches and edges are sure signs of age. And, no matter what the bag says, always wash your greens.

If browsing for whole heads of lettuce, turn over and inspect the base; it should show only the slightest signs of browning. Press a fingernail into the base of a leaf. If some liquid oozes out, that means the leaves are fresh and juicy. A few slightly wilted leaves on the outside are not a problem, but if the whole head is droopy, pass it up.

Now you know the steps to take when shopping for greens. You can be confident that you are using the freshest ingredients.  With a little planning, the salad bowl can be the brightest spot of your meal!

What single word best describes the main idea of the passage?