Quality Produce on a Budget: Challenges and Helpful Tips
I shop the same grocery store for my produce as I do for my regular groceries, as I find it offers the freshest options around. (That is, when I can’t make it downtown to the farmer’s market or to my mom’s house for her very super awesome daily farmer’s market that boasts fruits and veggies I’ve never even heard of!)
Therefore, this article about Walmart’s declining produce in some stores caught my interest. It’s something that could happen to any store that didn’t keep enough help on board to stock the shelves as often as necessary.
The problem with produce, of course, is its short shelf life. Unlike, say, a can of beans, fresh fruits and vegetables won’t last for years or, even weeks. If produce gets shipped to a store but then not stocked, its lifespan decreases even faster, which means once it DOES hit the bins it may not be as fresh as it should be – or as we would want it to be if we were shopping.
Since I don’t shop for produce at the store I can’t say whether I notice this happening or not, but I wondered if our readers noticed any changes in the quality of produce at their local Walmart and, if so, how that might have changed your shopping habits. Or have you noticed changes in the produce at whatever store you shop?
Other Walmart shoppers have noticed a decline. According to a survey done in correlation with these findings, only 48% of people spoken to believe in the quality of the produce at the superstore giant, while 71% of Safeway shoppers are confident that its produce is fresh.
And what happens if you do notice a decline? Would you take the time to travel from one store that has lower prices to another that has better produce if your main store didn’t have the freshest available? Or would you give up shopping at that store altogether? Does the quality of produce matter as much to you as the price of the rest of the groceries?
On another note, if you are shopping for fresh produce, here are a few tips:
- Mold. I have a problem at times when purchasing berries in containers, as they can contain hidden mold. Always flip the plastic container over to ensure the contents are fresh. Or, even better, purchase these types of fruits from a market that doesn’t put them in plastic containers, so you can choose the ones that look the best.
- Buy local. Not only is less shipping better for the environment, but it sheds time off of the picking-to-consuming time. And if you can buy from a farmer’s market in your area, you are supporting local growers at the same time!
- Consider what continues to ripen. Items like pears, peaches, and bananas will continue to ripen after you buy them. So you might buy a few that are ready to eat and a few that are a few days away from eating time. You can always create a quicker ripening time by putting the foods in a brown bag.
- Learn how to spot the freshest fruit. Here is an awesome guide for those fruits and veggies you probably regularly buy. Take a look at it before heading to the store to make sure you are getting the freshest produce out there.
Do you have a few tips of your own to share? We'd love to know.