Health care is a basic human right, not a privilege. For some reason, we’ve allowed ourselves as Americans to be fooled into accepting that one must be blessed with “means” to actuate appropriate health care. As a nation we have failed to realize that our health care system is a barometer of our society’s value for human life.

-Me

Sunday, September 17, 2006

What Kind of Produce Consumer are You?

The world of fruits and vegetables to a novice just learning the tricks of the veggie trade can be pretty disappointing! How often have you decided to finally start eating those fruits and veggies, stock your cupboards with the life of the earth, only to throw most of it away as it goes bad and mostly brown (certainly not tasty, are pears SUPPOSED to be this mushy?)? What an investment gone down the drain! or in the wastebucket, literally....Even if you did get the chance to eat at least half, oftentimes what you get just isn't very tasty. More than anything, it leaves you feeling cheated, and CONVINCED that people claiming to like produce are dirty, dirty liars all involved in some weird veggie conspiracy.

Eating fruits and veggies for me has been a journey. My journey began at Cub Foods. I had similar experiences to what I described above. I bought things like broccoli, apples, oranges, and of course bananas. These are proven fruit and veggie staples and they are fairly inexpensive (in relation to others). I did not know to expect more! I did not know there was anything MORE to expect!

I happened across the produce section at Byerly's purely by chance. Byerly's is just up the road from me, I drive by it every day, and one day I decided I wanted to check it out. I believe that Byerly's is a specialty/deluxe chain grocery store. I don't know exactly the category it fits into, but wandering around in this store I noticed that the shelves were filled with specialty items.....The aisle with spaghetti sauce wasn't just Ragu and Prego, they had spaghetti sauce that was imported from Italy and cost like 12 bucks a jar. They stock the opportunity to feel "ritzy"! I decided in my third or fourth visit to try buying some of their produce. I mean, it looked delish' and with produce circling the store, you were tempted everywhere you looked. I was AMAZED when the broccoli and cucumbers I bought weren't browning within a few days and actually lasted over a WEEK. This was HUGE!

Soon after I started buying ALL of my produce from Byerly's. The difference in quality was so profound, both in taste and selection, compared to Cub. It really didn't even bother me that I had to pay MORE to buy produce from there. Over the course of the next few months I completely stopped shopping at Cub and switched to Byerly's. Also, for taste, quality, and ethical reasons I switched to all organic veggies and fruits over the few months following my switch.

Now, this is NOT an ad for Byerlys, I promise. I just think that there is a huge difference between a store that touts its produce as a pinnacle point of its products and a store that had a produce department simply because it can ship in produce from 2000 miles away to sell mass amounts of it at a huge profit. When I first started trying to eat more fruits and veggies I really did not realize the HUGE difference WHERE I bought my produce would make.

I now buy my produce jointly from the local coop and from Byerly's. Between the two places, I get a huge selection of organic fruits and veggies that are mostly from local growers. Have you ever bought a head of broccoli that can hold in your fridge for two weeks? Honestly? I HAVE.

I spend a LOT of money on produce. I choose to spend more than most people because I choose to buy organic produce from vendors that actually take pride in the produce they sell. They take pride in their produce because their consumers expect a LOT from them. Their consumsers won't BUY produce that is going to go bad in a few days, because they KNOW they can find produce that is better than that. Their consumers know that fresh pulled from the ground is the freshest and best tasting. Their consumers aren't afraid to pay more for quality, because even they don't enjoy eating disgusting ill cared for veggies.

It took me a long time to realize that where I shopped made a huge impact on how I eat. Before I had organic choices made available to me, I didn't realize that it could be an important option I could choose. I would advise anyone who is trying to add more fruits and veggies to their diet to seriously consider WHERE they are buying their produce. If you are buying subpar produce, expect to have subpar excitement as you add it to your diet. New foods and produce should be something you are EXCITED to add to your diet, and finding high quality helps to bring that excitement and lends more enjoyment to your eating!

Good places to try for great produce if you aren't happy with where you currently buy your produce are coops (great for local growers), specialty grocery stores, and in the summer farmer's markets. If your produce department where you shop is gross and you don't have other options, COMPLAIN! I know it is a cliche, but the squeaky wheel truly does get the grease!

Ive tried some WONDERFUL foods over the past year, and Ive been able to highlight all of my foods with some wonderful produce. I greatly enjoy pears, pristine green apples, dynamo pluotts, bananas, blood oranges, eggplant!, cucumbers, zucchini, broccoli, carrots (with the green tops still on, so cool!), sweet potatoes (mmmmm). My world of produce opened up with flavors when I simply changed the venue I bought them from!

4 comments:

art-sweet said...

Sarah -

Check out the wonderful world of CSAs. We belong to one and it's ten times better than the produce at the good grocery store!

http://www.landstewardshipproject.org/csa.html

hugs, art-sweet

MileMasterSarah said...

Wow! Thanks! Bob and I have already started thinking about which one we are gonna go for next year! Too bad I found out about this at the end of the season....sigh

Minnesota Nice said...

A lot of great food for thought (excuse the pun).
Here in Minneapolis there are also some differences between the Cub stores in various neighborhoods. My tai chi teacher always shops at a Cub in a particular neighborhood that has a lot of SE Asian customers, and they offer all kinds of vegetables that seem a bit "exotic" to us midwesterners - bok choy, unusual kinds of basil and mushrooms, patty pan squash, big white radishes, etc. All of these things add something that helps me a lot - VARIETY!!
Boredom makes for binging.

Scott K. Johnson said...

What is this "produce" you speak of?

:-p

Just kidding! Glad to see that you elaborated on your comment you left over at my place! I never knew it could make such a difference - although after you think about it, it does make a lot of sense.