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How did you learn to pick out produce?

The thread about trusting others to go to the grocery store for you got me thinking. When I have had to (health issues) ask people to shop for me produce has been the most difficult item to deal with. While I know what a "nice" tomato is I've learned most don't! :-)

The point really hit home at Thanksgiving. My sister had requested my help. We were shopping several days ahead and she grabbed a package of mushrooms. They were presliced and already looking over the hill. I told her there was no way these would last and that I would look for them elsewhere. She looked at me quizzically. I asked if she was interested in why, she said yes and we had a mini mushroom lesson. It was funny - several shoppers listened in - even the produce girl!

I do have more interest in food than my sister. I guess I largely taught myself how to choose produce. I observe, make mental comparisons, read and ask questions. But a certain amount just seems to be innate. Ripe plantains seem to be one of the few counter-intuitive items I buy.

How did you learn?

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  1. As a small, little child....from my mother when i was 4-5 years old. To this day I still hand pick every Green String Bean to make sure there are not any blemishes and they are all similar in size and length, just like she taught me. It drives the Korean owner crazy when he sees me....I do the same with every other vegetable...but the String Beans reminds me of shopping with my Mom.

    It requires more time to shop....but it's worth it just for the memories and the quality of the produce.

    1. I had a chance run in with our produce guy. He offered to help me pick out a papaya. Next time I was there, he asked how it was, btw, it was perfect, and proceeded to show me how to pick out other items. Thank you shoprite produce man

      1. Trial and error. As a kid I wasn't involved in shopping for or preparing food at all. It became more intuitive as I became a vegetarian, I'm not sure why.

        1. From a variety of relatives, parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles, cousins.

          The most fun was going with my grandfather to the auction in Roseville CA. Watching the vendors faces when he pulled out his pocket knife to slice open an apple or plug a watermelon. This was always done after the appropriate squeezing, thumping, etc. He wouldn't cut unless he intended to buy, but occasionally he would find a piece of fruit that had been stored too cold, stored too long, or whatever. He was never shy about telling the vendor about his disappointment, and most of them took it well.

          I can't imagine walking into Safeway and starting to slice apart the produce. I'd probably be escorted out wearing nice shiny silver bracelets.

          1. [(trial and error + parental guidance) / asking for help ] x patience = how I learned to pick out produce.