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Produce butchery: am I nuts?

Can I run a pet peeve by you guys? When stocking leeks, my local supermarket produce department requires its minions to remove the bottom inch of each one, not just the roots, but the actual white part of the vegetable. This exposes the interior to air and causes them to spoil really fast. Nobody would do that to an onion or a scallion and expect customers to buy it.

Don Quixote-like, I've actually approached the poor kids doing this task (in public!) and asked them to please stop, only to be met with the reply "We've been told to do it this way." Of course, its not their fault, they're just doing their jobs. This is not a corporate policy, as other branches of the chain do not mishandle their leeks in the same way, but the policy of the produce manager of the individual store, whom I have NEVER seen out on the floor.

Am I just completely misguided on this or is this really egregious and ignorant?

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  1. Yes, it is ignorant. But, as you say, the poor kids are just doing what they've been told. It sounds like you need to talk to the manager of the store. The manager probably doesn't know any better either and needs a little polite education.

    1. Maybe point out to the produce manager that he's throwing away salable goods because the best part of the whole leek is that bottom inch of whiteness!

      1. I'd bring it up with the produce manager if you happen to come across him/her. Probably not much of a leek eater. But if you're lucky and run into the produce staff in the process of lopping off the good bits, could you just ask them for an uncut leek?

        My biggest produce pet peeve is when they water/mist the leafy greens to make them look "fresh". Wet spinach turns to goo fairly quickly in plastic baggies...

        2 Replies
        1. re: milkytea

          I just submitted a product quality contact to the chain's website. I suspect that if the store management has promoted this person, who clearly doesn't understand how to treat vegetables, to the position of *produce manager* then they're not gonna be too sympathetic at the local level.

          Or I'm just too chickensh*t to confront the actual responsible manager in person. :)

          From what I've seen, judicious spritzing can prevent the premature wiltage of leafy greens. As a countermeasure to overspritzing, they should be taken out of the plastic bag ASAP when you get home and wrapped in damp papertowels to keep the humidity correct. Or you will get rotten goo.

          1. re: the_MU

            Yes, I've kept greens crisp for WEEKS in a ziploc bag with a paper towel. It's amazing.

        2. More vegetable abuse:

          - missing greens from beets
          - celery without leaves
          - waxed fruit
          - packaged anything in plastic and/or Styrofoam
          - overtrimmed asparagus
          - scallions with the outer layers removed
          - carrots without their tops

          They should all be reported to the SPCV and sent to veggie love class!

          12 Replies
          1. re: alwayscooking

            Wow, you must live somewhere with a year-round growing season. Carrot and beet greens (local ones, anyway) would never make it through February around here (Northern New England), but the roots will. Our winter CSA ran out of leeks (mostly roots still on, majority of leaves trimmed off) around then. But still had carrots and beets.

            I'm starting to realize the depths of my produce-obsessiveness.

            1. re: the_MU

              Ok
              I confess
              I don't always buy local

              =(

              So when I'm being bad, I want the whole thing.

              1. re: alwayscooking

                Oof, I didn't mean to sound sanctimonious -- local is nice, but greens left on the root veggies do ensure you're getting the fresh stuff. I'm cheap so I usually go for the best deal, which is the CSA around here. Until the veggies run out.

                1. re: the_MU

                  Nope, you were fine. It's just my rather personal sore and guilty conscience talking! I grow enough vegetables to last from July to Nov - and the tomatoes until Jan/Feb [now comes the personal rationalization whether you want it or not!] but in the winter I visit the greengrocers. I wonder where the nice parts are going (hopefully to a composter and not land fill).

                  As an aside, growing up, we never went past the white part on the scallions - sigh - we missed out.

            2. re: alwayscooking

              LOL. One day at the farmers market I very carefully picked out the bunch of beets with the best looking greens. I handed them to the lady, and she started to twist the tops off to discard them until I yelped in dismay. Turns out most of her customers don't want to hassle with the tops. She wanted to know what I did with them .... *sigh* Sometimes even the people who grow them don't know what to do with them!

              1. re: Ruth Lafler

                They beheaded them in public?! Outrageous!

                I hope you set her straight. Shouldn't she know that the tops are chard and perhaps sell them separately?

                1. re: alwayscooking

                  I've done that. I've seen someone ask the farmer to chop off the tops of the beets and I've gone over and asked the farmer if I could buy those. Gotten for free that way too, despite my protesting that I should pay. I think the farmers (at least the ones I've talked to) just sigh and do what the customer wants.

                  1. re: LNG212

                    I've had that experience, too. Although the hippie vegetarian farmers certainly know not to behead the beets!

                  2. re: alwayscooking

                    Believe me, many don't know they can be used. Just cuz they cash you out doesn't mean they know how to cook them. Everyone I have seen buy beets at our market, all the tops they request pulled off or at least most people. It isn't his or her fault they just have never cooked with them or never learned. There is nothing wrong with that ... many people don't know what to do.

                2. re: alwayscooking

                  Root vegetables with their tops are fine if you are buying them at the farmer's market two hours after they were harvested, but other than that all they do is suck the life and the moisture out of the root. They are very pretty to the uneducated, and very appealing to shoppers who like pretty things, but if you know what you are talking about they are extraneous. Plus, if I'm paying $2.99 a pound for fresh carrots I don't want the extra weight of the inedible tops!! Wax, too, keeps the moisture in the fruit, to keep it fresher longer, and simple enough to remove when you get it home.

                  1. re: skeip

                    Call me uneducated but carrot greens can be eaten and they are very good.

                    1. re: skeip

                      Wax, none on ours. I know the one guy locally. They don't wax and 2.99 a lb. wow, expensive. I've seen many people and the people working give us one to try right there. They are all washed but No additives. Very fresh tasting and just good veggies.

                  2. Does this same store sell mushroom stems and discard those nasty caps? ;) adam

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: adamshoe

                      They should trim off those raggedy looking asparagus tips after they're done with those mushrooms.

                      Thanks, folks. I know I'm nuts, but it's still nice to have backup on this :)