(Dec. 28) A new reference/cookbook that covers more than 100 fresh fruits and vegetables demystifies the produce aisle for consumers, said its author Cathy Thomas, food editor for the Orange County Register.

Melissa’s Great Book of Produce: Everything You Need to Know about Fresh Fruits and Vegetables is being sold on its publisher’s Web site, www.wiley.com, and is expected to be available in February.

Thomas wrote the 336-page book working closely with World Variety Produce Inc., Los Angeles, which sells under the Melissa's brand. It features 200 color photos, along with recipes, tips, guides and charts.

The book is a guide intended to help consumers learn about fruits and vegetables in the marketplace — including aesthetics, taste, smell and preparation, Thomas said.

“I have a great passion for educating consumers about ingredients, especially fresh fruits and vegetables,” Thomas said.

Robert Schueller, director of public relations at World Variety, said the release of a produce book coincides well with renewed interest in the health benefits of fresh fruits and vegetables.