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Help picking out produce

 
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Acadiana



Joined: 20 Apr 2006
Posts: 41
Location: Washington DC

PostPosted: Sun Oct 07, 2007 12:38 am    Post subject: Help picking out produce Reply with quote

Is anyone as bad as me at picking out fruits and vegetables? Maybe I'm just bad because my supermarket is terrible.

I have found a lot of good tips on buying produce from the videos they have on www.better.tv - it is like YouTube except the videos are made by Better Homes and Gardens.

The guy who hosts the videos is Seattle based, I think - he might have a local TV show there, but I'm not sure. Anyway, he's great. What do you guys think of his tips?
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Debbie



Joined: 21 Feb 2005
Posts: 861
Location: Paris

PostPosted: Sun Oct 07, 2007 5:10 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I don't know what the show is that you are talking about, but I can say one thing from your post..... don't buy your fruit and veg at the supermarket and that will immediately increase your chances of getting better produce.

Generally supermarkets produce is ordered by a head office and is the cheapest option that they can buy. The tomatoes are generally gassed, and same for the other fruit. They go for bulk and shelf life, not necessarily taste and quality like you would get at a market or a small independant shop.

Good luck in your search for better produce!
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Acadiana



Joined: 20 Apr 2006
Posts: 41
Location: Washington DC

PostPosted: Tue Oct 09, 2007 2:21 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks for the reply. Most times I don't have the option of buying local produce or what have you, so I have to settle for what's available at the supermarket (augh!). But the point of the videos on Better.tv is that he shows you how to make the best of what you have access to, you know? That's what's most helpful to me, at least. Smile
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Rainey



Joined: 29 Sep 2004
Posts: 2498
Location: Los Angeles, California, USA

PostPosted: Tue Oct 09, 2007 2:45 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I can't remember if I've posted this here before or not. http://video.on.nytimes.com/?fr_story=a44f5924c5f01d5241dee91b82db51b892ce9da9 It's video of Alice Waters shopping the NYC Greenmarket.

It's more theoretical than practical but she does share a couple tips.
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georgia



Joined: 16 May 2006
Posts: 456
Location: california

PostPosted: Tue Oct 09, 2007 4:07 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Acadiana--My best advice is to use your senses as best you can. Yes, supermarkets often get shipments of perfect looking produce that tastes like cardboard. It's grown for volume, picked too soon, and shipped too far, then refrigerated for who knows how long. So, do the best you can. Besides your eyes, your nose is your best supermarket friend. Don't be shy. Stick that fruit right up to your nose. If it smells like a peach, it's likely to taste like a peach, too. A slight yielding to the pressure of your thumb + the appropriate fragrance = a good start toward getting a piece of fruit that's flavorful.

A couple of days of sitting on your kitchen counter, unrefrigerated, will sometimes do wonders for a marginally okay piece of fruit, too. Just give it a little more time to ripen. Once it goes into the refrigerator, it will never get tastier. It will only get colder!

Wherever you live, try to buy what's in season. Even in California, I do not buy melons in the winter. They aren't "in season" here, no matter what anyone says. They are in season in Central and South America, but I don't live there, so I know they've travelled far and been in storage. We can get just about anything we want here at any time. That doesn't mean that all of our produce is perfect all the time, either. December strawberries do not ever taste like June strawberries and that will never change.

So, use your eyes, your nose, and your mouth--if you can get the market owner to let you taste (it doesn't hurt to ask...). Check the calendar, too. It does, indeed, make a difference. And good luck. By the way, if you ever develop a good system for choosing a great watermelon, I'd be eternally grateful Laughing
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Rainey



Joined: 29 Sep 2004
Posts: 2498
Location: Los Angeles, California, USA

PostPosted: Tue Oct 09, 2007 4:28 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

georgia- Although I am generally in agreement, I have to take exception to the value of smelling. I think it's always a good idea in that something that doesn't have an inviting aroma can be guaranteed to be a disappointment. However, and unfortunately, having one no longer is a reliable indicator that it will deliver on flavor.

I think they've managed to produce deceptive smells just as they have colors. Strawberries, in particular, can smell much better than they taste.
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gingerpale



Joined: 23 Jan 2006
Posts: 1324

PostPosted: Tue Oct 09, 2007 5:46 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I am disappointed regularly by the expensive organic stuff I get at Wild Oats, just as much as I am fooled by the pretty stuff I get at the regular supermarket.
Two things I am grateful for -- mushrooms don't seem to be affected by seasons, and
Thank goodness for canned tomatoes!
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jenyfari



Joined: 29 Jan 2007
Posts: 42

PostPosted: Tue Oct 09, 2007 9:52 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I am the same. My brother on the other hand seems to have the knack of finding the best fruit and veggies. I will bring home apples that look just wonderful but are tasteless whereas he will come home with the most tastiest of fruit.
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KYHeirloomer



Joined: 21 Aug 2007
Posts: 552
Location: Central Kentucky

PostPosted: Tue Oct 09, 2007 2:03 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Gingerpale,

The reason for your disappointment is because the organic produce found at supermarkets and the like does not come from the small, diverse growers we think of in connection with the word "organic."

Instead, they are grown by the organic divisions of the same factory farms that supply almost everything else. And, with one exception, are grown, stored, and transported the exact same ways as conventionally grown produce.

Being that, despite what some misinformed people say, organically grown and chemically grown produce tastes exactly the same, it stands to reason that you'd be disappointed. If it looks, walks, and sounds like a duck, it's a duck.
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gingerpale



Joined: 23 Jan 2006
Posts: 1324

PostPosted: Tue Oct 09, 2007 5:12 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Depressing.
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KYHeirloomer



Joined: 21 Aug 2007
Posts: 552
Location: Central Kentucky

PostPosted: Wed Oct 10, 2007 12:02 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yes, it is. But there are bright spots.

Things like the Slow Foods movement, and it's several spin-offs. Greater awareness on the part of consumers as to where their food comes from, and what's missing in terms of taste, nutrition, etc. The growth of farmer's markets, CSAs, and other "alternative" agricultural endeavers all are healthy signs.

Unfortunately, so long as the American public insists on putting convenience before health and safety, all these things will have only a marginal affect at best.
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Melly



Joined: 24 Jan 2006
Posts: 72
Location: Limburg Province, The Netherlands

PostPosted: Wed Oct 10, 2007 8:26 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
Unfortunately, so long as the American public insists on putting convenience before health and safety, all these things will have only a marginal affect at best.


Well said. I will miss the markets here when we move back to Florida. I know they get their produce from wholesalers, but for whatever reason, it is still nicer than the grocery store stuff. When we return, I will have to start making the trek to the farmer's market on the other side of town occasionally. That being said, in north Florida in summer, not much is local since the heat finishes the crops up early. The one thing that I can get locally is blueberries.
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