Take Back Bad Produce

By Karla Jones Seidita, Home Economist

I just got back from returning produce I recently bought at the grocery store.  

It doesn't matter which grocery store because they're all to blame.  

They sell produce that looks beautiful but winds up being terrible.

Last week, I bought some gorgeous looking (and wonderfully fragrant) peaches.  I thought they'd be great.  I brought them home to lovingly, slowly ripen. 

Two days later, the peaches were the perfect stage of ripe-ness but when I bit into one, it was pulpy and dry.  Not a speck of juice ran down my chin!

Thinking it was just a bad peach (that can happen), I cut into another, then another and, by the forth peach, I realized it was going to be the whole batch.  They were AWFUL.  It didn't matter that they were "local" and on sale....they were awful at any price!

We live way out in the country and I don't get to the grocery store every day, so I put the peaches into the freezer till I was able to make a trip to town.

A week later, I took them back to the store, receipt in hand.  

The clerk cheerfully took them back never asking why.  I thought it was important for her to know why I returning the peaches so I told her.  I asked her to be sure the peaches got back to the produce manager so he (or she) could see what was going on with their produce. But I saw her dump them into the trash as I left her counter.

I never used to return produce - or much of anything for that matter - but now I seem to be spending 2 days a week at the grocery store - 1 day shopping and the other day returning.

Grocery stores (and I shop them all) spend lots of time displaying their produce attractively and keeping it fresh looking but they should also be sampling the produce to see exactly what they're selling.  

Shoppers around the world taste produce before buying.  It's expected.

We used to do that, too, but somewhere around 1960 as small stores and farm stands gave way to super markets, the practice stopped.  

Now-a-days, tasting a grape or a bit of lettuce is considered shop lifting. So, we buy good looking produce expecting it to taste as good as it looks.

When it doesn't, we throw it out.
What we need to do is return it!

Here's my current list of pet peeves.....

  • Bananas that never turn yellow but rot inside their green peel.
  • Bitter, tough to chew lettuce, cucumbers, kale, and collards.
  • Pulpy, juice-less peaches.
  • Dry, tasteless watermelons (Yes!  Dry, watermelons!!) 
  • Plums that stay rock hard and never ripen.
  • Strawberries that are moldy the day after you buy them.
  • Onions that look good on the outside but are brown and rotten at the core.
  • Apples without taste.
  • Bags of potatoes that contain a few mushy ones.
My list is endless.

Yes, I know I should shop at the farmers' market and I do but, like you, sometimes I just don't/can't.

If the produce you buy isn't good, take it back. Don't be afraid!

Just put it in the freezer until you can get back to the store and return it frozen.

It's the only way stores will know you're not happy.



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