Tomato Sale

Every time I hit the store, I venture over to the discount produce rack to see what they have. It’s mostly curiosity, but I do buy things from time to time.

It’s essentially the one area where I do make impulse purchases—I know, tsk, tsk–but I only do it when I know I’ll use the item. Plus, it doesn’t happen often because the sale produce isn’t exactly enticing. While you never now what to expect, you can usually find old bananas (good for baking), very ripe cantaloupes (for eating…when you get home from the store) and wrinkly potatoes (just fine for mashing).

The other day, though, I was excited to see cherry tomatoes, which, in my estimation, brighten up just about anything. Two pints came shrink wrapped together for $1 (not bad, as these containers usually go for $3 each).

photo by jonathan bloom

Since they looked perfectly fine through through the multiple layers of cellophane, I was really curious to see if that was the case. Upon closer examination, I found only four cherry toms that that were off (as seen below). One had burst and leaked, which explained why it was on the sale rack. As for the other container, I’m really not quite sure.

photo by jonathan bloom

Discount produce buying is a way to benefit from produce departments’ increasingly superficial standards. That is, if supermarkets still have sale produce racks. Does your regular store have one? And if so, is there anything you wouldn’t buy from it?

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  1. Posted August 10, 2009 at 7:01 am | Permalink

    My regular store rarely has marked-down produce, but the local supermarket does, so when I’m there, I do always check to see if there’s anything good available.

  2. tg
    Posted August 10, 2009 at 12:29 pm | Permalink

    One of my local markets has marked-down produce, but I am reluctant to buy because they put it on a styrofoam tray and shrink-wrap it. I usually end up deciding that the plastic waste is not worth rescuing the food. Although there have been a few times I bought potatoes and pointedly unwrapped them and directly handed the plastic waste to the cashier.

  3. Emily
    Posted August 10, 2009 at 1:39 pm | Permalink

    I hesitate to buy the produce I would like to eat fresh. I feel more confident about buying produce I would put into a cooked dish.

  4. dee dee
    Posted August 10, 2009 at 3:15 pm | Permalink

    The best deal on our local supermarket’s discounted produce cart are the limes. I can find them most weeks…about 6 or 7 of them shrink-wrapped on a styro tray (yeah, the plastic waste is unfortunate). The limes sometimes have a little bit of brown on the skin, but they are otherwise fine. My husband likes them in a G & T; I use the lime juice to make marinades; and just this past weekend, I used the zest from one to add to a chicken salad…such a nice, refreshing flavor. And did I mention that the limes cost about 1/4 of what the “perfect” ones do?

  5. Posted August 11, 2009 at 11:04 am | Permalink

    Nice find on those cherry tomatoes!! I don’t know if there’s something I really wouldn’t consider buying when marked down. I suppose if it really had a nasty-looking bad spot that might signal internal rotteness, I’d probably pass. And we don’t eat much melon anyway, so I’d pass on those, too. But apples, tomatoes, potatoes, bananas, strawbs, etc. If the markdown made some paring off of bad bits still a good buy, then sure!

  6. WilliamB
    Posted August 11, 2009 at 9:38 pm | Permalink

    The stores I go to do not have discounted produce, alas. I can’t think of anything I wouldn’t buy – I’d trust my senses and my judgement.

  7. Rachel
    Posted August 16, 2009 at 9:17 am | Permalink

    I check it out–but my grocery also shrink-wraps all the discount produce. it makes it look so unappealing!

  8. Posted September 16, 2009 at 2:20 pm | Permalink

    Walt’s in Chicago’s South Suburbs has a discount produce rack, a clearance bin for spices and sauces and even a cheap-o dairy bin for milk and yogurt. I use them all – the produce comes highly packaged in styrofoam and shrink wrap, which is the only bad side. Most of the produce still has good shelf life but I wouldn’t pay if the only use left were compost.

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