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May 17, 2009 04:11 PM

fresh produce

where do you generally purchase your fruit and vegetables? i am having a difficult time finding good quality, not crazy expensive produce. today at whole foods everything I was trying to buy looked horrible. i went to the farmer's market the other day and while it is plentiful it's not always convenient and certainly not inexpensive. ralph's, trader joe's and gelson's are convenient but pretty sad as far as quality/prices. it seems like a very long time since I have had a strawberry, peach, avocado etc. that I could rave about. where have you found the best fruits and vegetables???

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  1. Marina Farms has had pretty good produce, if you're over on the Westside. I've found certain Ralph's to have a nice selection, in particular thinking of the one on Sepulveda just south into El Segundo. There seems to be a lot of variation in what is carried maybe dependent on what people in that area like to eat - I think you could do well in an area with a large Asian or Mexican population.

    For cheap, I've gotten nice buys at El Rancho, a little produce store on Culver Blvd., but it is not going to have everything. And there's something that is leaving me flabbergasted... I venture to 99 Cents Only for paper goods mainly, but their fresh produce section has been growing and I've said what the heck and tried a few things. I recently got a small watermelon there that looks like a Dulcinea, the type Gelson's carries - delicious, $1, the size of a cantaloupe. I also got a huge (2 pint?) box of strawberries that were terrific for $1 - not anemic, not off-tasting, but red, juicy beauties with a lot of flavor. I've now picked up some chilies, limes, etc., there. So far, so good. I'm just amazed.

    The watermelon had a label from Farmer's Best in Mexico -

    1. Super King. I'm convinced that, unless you insist on organically grown, this is the best place for produce both for freshness and for value. But be warned. It is a very busy market and gets extremely crowded at times. Navigating the parking lot or the aisles inside can be challenging. On the plus side, they usually have 10-12 checkstands operating so there is rarely much delay in the cashier line.

      1. I alternate between farmers markets (Hollywood or Larchmont), Korean supermarkets, Jons and some small Latino markets in my neighborhood. I buy only when things are in season (it's too early for peaches right now), and for pricey items such as cherries, only in small quantities. I also lucked out a few times at Grand Central Market with some promotions.
        It's not organic, but I ended up with surprisingly good asparagus (3 bunches for $1) and some even more surprisingly good packaged strawberries (.85 cents) last month.

        1. Ethnic markets. Vallarta, de préférence.

          1. Superior Super Warehouse. HIgh turnover so quality is usually excellent and prices are low. Same stuff they carry at Bristol Farms. Eg this week 3/$1 for Filipino mangoes, a week are two ago it was 4/$1 on the regular mangoes (big ones, too). Cherries were $1.99/lb. Probably dont have one near anyone who shops at Gelson's, though.

            Sometimes Henry's and sometimes Fresh & Easy (the Mother's day special strawberries were excellent)

            However if you're buying out of season or early in the season then chances of getting anything good is reduced, no matter how much you spend.