Home What Are You Eating? Do YOUR Grocery Store’s Vegetables Look Like This?

Do YOUR Grocery Store’s Vegetables Look Like This?

by Erika Nicole Kendall

In keeping with my understanding of food availability, I can’t help but wonder if, inside the stores that we do go to for groceries, the fresh stuff is, actually… well, fresh. If we want everyone to know that “fresh produce” is ideal, don’t we also have to wonder about whether or not we all have access to it?

Christine from Steen’s Cookiesyes, yes, I know – sent in these photos and, well… my face instantly frowned up. If this was what I had available to me at my nearest store, could I say that I’d buy that?

Ladies and gentlemen, we do have mold.

Considering the fact that veggies are usually wrapped in saran wrap and styrofoam to prevent the buyer from being able to inspect it for wear and withering… exactly how long were these sitting there?

Side note: Viva la farmer’s market, seriously.

Are there places near your home that sell veggies that look like this? What’s going on out there?

You may also like


Maggie @ Say Yes to Salad January 24, 2012 - 12:35 PM

That is revolting. No wonder people have a hard time choosing fresh veggies – they look unappetizing and old. It’s unfortunate that most of the junk food ends up being much cheaper than subpar veggies. And if you want great veggies you have to pay more at a place like Whole Foods. I find that Trader Joe’s generally has good produce, but it is wrapped like the ones you posted – I guess they do a better job of vetting what is still good or not, and they have enough volume that they must get fresh stuff in each day. Viva la farmers’ market indeed!

F_Uitlist January 24, 2012 - 12:40 PM

The veggies and fruit in my neighborhood don’t look like this but I know a few stores where they do. When I was growing up my mom would go to another side of Brooklyn to shop for food and we never understood until she gathered all the neighbors to protest selling bad produce. It was life changing for us and our neighbors.

Gigi January 24, 2012 - 1:06 PM

Not my grocery store, but those at my local 99c store do! However, we try our best to inspect the veggies despite the saran wrap because bell peppers are expensive!

J. Wilson January 24, 2012 - 1:36 PM

Produce often looks this way in Black neighborhoods. I live in Brooklyn. Just a block and a half from my home, there is a supermarket that barely had a produce section (I mean, you are a supermarket, right?) and the quality of their selection was poor. I absolutely refused to buy because in my thinking, if I support your business and your business is to provide food, then, it should be fresh. The supermarket in question has now changed hands (???) and sells much fresher produce.
I’ve said it for years and perhaps it may make some people uncomfortable, but, produce in white middle class neighborhoods is definitely fresher. Fortunately, competition is stiff where I live so I can get great produce. However, when I go to Trader Joe’s in downtown Brooklyn and walk along Court Street or even in Park Slope, the produce does not resemble the produce in the pictures that were sent to you. Shucks, even the flowers in my neighborhood don’t last as long as the ones I buy at Trader Joe’s! Really?!

kiesh January 25, 2012 - 2:11 PM

I agree – produce often looks like this or close to it in Black neighborhoods in Philly too, smh.

tiffanie August 27, 2013 - 1:18 PM

sad but so true…majority of black people will not jump on the bandwagon because we say its too expensive. and then when they want to charge $3 for something thats molded and such no wonder we go over to the frozen/canned section and think we made off better. smh….sometimes though the food just sits because nobody is buying it…so it may have been fresh when it was put out..but anything wrapped in plastic and possibly mid temperature is gonna have some effects after a few days. walking through the bronx it was the same thing..i can go to the parkchester area and get slim pickins’, but head on down the east tremont area..surprise surprise…people need to start complaining about whats out there. or take the initiative and go elsewhere to give our families better quality food.

Erika Nicole Kendall August 27, 2013 - 6:32 PM

“sometimes though the food just sits because nobody is buying it”

This is usually a health code violation, though. You can’t just leave food out until it molds and, eventually, rots. Who’s gonna buy produce from you if they see that THIS is how you treat it?

MP January 24, 2012 - 2:20 PM

No place near my current home sells produce like this. Grocers nearest to my past homes are another story. I am very familiar with produce in this type of packaging looking sad; not this moldly and putrid, but one step before it. Now that you’re living in New York City, do tour the grocery stores of some of the black and brown neighborhoods. You could easily snap similar photos because their produce was a pitiful sight in my experience.

NaturalBlackOne January 24, 2012 - 2:34 PM

Erika, some of the stores by me definitely have their veggies look like this! And yes, I live “on that side” of Brooklyn where you don’t buy them. I fell into this trap so many times. When they know something is gonna go bad soon, they saran it up and sell it at a discount. I get so excited about the discount, I buy it and still end up wasting $$ because I don’t use it fast enough before it goes bad! Or for something like yams that have odd shapes, they just keep chopping off the molded ends to keep it out. Its disgusting!

Meagan January 24, 2012 - 3:36 PM

That is crazy! Ive seen that too around here, and I think its kind of sad! I mean especially because I am trying to eat healthier, why are they making it difficult? I just want some fresh Fruits/Veggies! 🙂

Bannef January 24, 2012 - 4:11 PM

It’s a huge problem in food deserts – stores owners will say “oh, we tried selling fresh produce, but there was no demand” – um, yeah, because the food you put out looked like that. Not that demand isn’t part of the issue (if you’ve grown up eating the foods available to you you’re going to go look for those foods even when better ones show up, unless you have a good reason not to – and thank you Erika for showing some great reasons not to!), but with the focus on availability people often ignore “freshness.” Thanks for bringing more attention to that!

Nichole January 24, 2012 - 4:47 PM

The photos of the fruit and veggies pictured here are not a surprise to me. I am a Public Health student and as you may or may not know the freshest fruit and veggies are given to the richer communities. Do your own experiment. Go to a grocery store in a white neighborhood and then go to one in a black or underserved neighborhood and see the difference between food products.

CurvyCEO January 24, 2012 - 8:26 PM

Ugh. That looks gross. Honestly, I know this is going to sound terrible, but my concerns about rotting is one of the reasons I tend to buy process foods. Even though it’s full of junk, you know that it will still be edible when you decide you want to eat it 2 months after you bought it. I know, I know, this is bad. Need to eat more whole foods in their original state. But yeah. That’s a mental block I have. Signed, The Girl Who NEVER Cooks

Ivy January 26, 2012 - 10:23 PM

CurvyCEO, try farmer’s markets in your local community. There you can get fresh produce and know that it came straight from the farmers’ hands to yours.

By eating processed foods, you are putting junk/inedible stuff into your body. The reason it doesn’t mold on the shelf is that the chemicals its infused with keep it that way. Processed foods are the reason Americans are dying of heart disease, diabetes complications, and other obesity/diet-related (PREVENTABLE) illnesses.

Diandra January 25, 2012 - 5:14 AM

Whoa, looks disgusting. At some stores near us, we don’t buy fresh produce. At others, we don’t buy dairy.

Safest bet is buying frozen produce – most times it is actually higher in vitamins than the “fresh” none-frozen stuff, because vitamins are futile little buggers who don’t like being transported and stored. Freezing the vegetables right off the field prevents most of this flight.

Naomi January 25, 2012 - 5:17 AM

Even the 99c stores in LA have better produce…that’s just wrong. And I agree with Gigi…always inspect 1st cause even their items have their issues occasionally. Though I find the biggest problem is them selling out because it seems everyone in LA is now hip to the game.

Say have you done a post on the dangers of consuming spoiled veggies/fruit?

Fa January 25, 2012 - 11:44 AM

Yup, in Barbados most of the imported fruits and veggies are sold like this in the grocery store and even some of the local produce is packaged similarly. But the local farmers market has everything beautifully laid out on tables which you can actually touch and feel before purchasing. To me, the issue seems to be that people who shop @ farmers markets are seen to be of a lower class (because its cheaper and most items are locally grown), whereas the grocery store supplies imported produce which can only be bought by those with the money to afford it. It is totally and completely perverse thinking! Additionally, Barbadian news is always covering persons who turn 100 years old (we have the highest rate of 100 year olds next to Japan) and they all say the same thing: that they eat good, old fashion Barbadian food which is fruit, veggies, yams, sweet potatoes, rice with peas and no processed or fast foods. They are also the very same people you see at the market every Friday and Saturday…..I’m just sayin!

Kim November 29, 2012 - 8:15 PM

You are right completely perverse thinking! I’m Bajan but I live in NY. When i last visited home, I was a sad to see all those imported fruits in the supermarkets – when Barbados is such a lush country with wonderful fruits. I saw apples from Washington State and I thought why would anyone want fruits from thousands of miles away – when there are so many delicious local fruits.

SOS July 4, 2013 - 12:53 PM

I’m from Antigua so I can identify with that whole mentality but who gives a fig! I LOOOOVE going to the local market for two reasons. 1 the veggies are cheaper and 2 they last longer…….I find that the produce imported from overseas are so quick to disintegrate into water! Noticed it first with bell peppers! If i cut one of dem suckers and left it in the fridge for more than a day id go back to continuously melting puddle of goop. Scares the hell out of me so I try as much as possible to buy from the local market

Erika January 26, 2012 - 1:15 PM

Lately, I’ve seen cucumbers in shrink wrap at farmer markets. But then they have the regular cucumber available for you to inspect and take. Weird.

Rose Marie January 28, 2012 - 9:24 PM

Looks like something that should be thrown into the slop bucket for the pigs . Anyway, my research shows that it is best to buy frozen fruit & veggies because they are frozen soon after being picked. It also says that “fresh” fruits & veggies are handled so much from the farm to the market (unless you are lucky enough to have access to a farmer’s market or fresh farmer’s stand) that most of the nutritional benefits are lost . Think about where our fresh produce comes from & how long it takes to get where we are . And also think about environment of the store. Canned fruits & veggies are good to have on stand by when there isn’t enough time to cook them fresh (late meeting at work / kids have tons of homework…) or when tthere’s a power outage, storm , etc.

Vanessa February 28, 2012 - 5:10 PM

I don’t know if it has to do with living in the south, but I grew up either going to a farmer’s market or getting fruit and veggies from my grandmother’s garden. And eggs from he chicken coop. I don’t really mess with the grocery store’s produce section. This confirmed why.

Carolyn April 16, 2012 - 1:09 PM

I feel you! I grew up in SC, and we had real chickens and fresh eggs daily. My mother had a garden every year, and what we didn’t grow, we got from other family or church members who had their own gardens as well. We went directly to farms for peaches and other fruit, which my mother canned and made preserves. As kids, we picked out own plums, grapes, muscadines, blackberries, apples and even pecans, and this was our snacks while we were sent outside to play. I account this lifestyle growing up as the reason that I don’t have health problems now. I want to get back to that life, so that I don’t end up jeopardizing my health in the future!!

Marian February 28, 2012 - 5:52 PM

I’m from Chicago and yes I’ve been to store where the veggies look like that in the past but none recently. Even the local corner store owner stop in at Aldi’s and buy fresh produce for his store…yes I know he stops at Aldi’s but the produce is almost farm fresh

Elle Gets Fit February 29, 2012 - 9:42 AM

That is so gross, and I avoid buying plastic wrapped veggies like this all the time. I even go so far as to bring it right to the customer service counter and letting them know that they can’t sell stuff like this. It’s gross, and lord know how long it’s been sitting there. This is precisely why i like to stick to frozen veggies at first, now that i have my Fit Fruit Wash i can eat some fresh fruits now. I’m noticing that a lot of grapes have been delivered all rotten too, which sucks because you can’t buy those frozen.

K grant May 18, 2012 - 9:45 PM

Yup I live in w oakland and the local corner stores often sell moldy/on it’s last legs produce! Its just not seran wrapped. Fortunately, there is a local co op that sells quality, local stuff, but its much farther away than the corner and isnt open as long, so im not sure how much of the neighborhood shpps there.

Jasna May 18, 2012 - 10:53 PM

Practically every store, the only time something fresh is in is when something else has been thrown away and freed some space.

Convenient packages of cut up veggies are always worst. Always.

Frozen foods are the best choice as far as store foods go around here.

Golda Smith May 21, 2012 - 9:19 AM

I have seen produce package like this and when I had limited transportation I had to make do. Fortunately, now I have a wide selection of stores and farmer’s markets to shop from…thank goodness.

pam May 21, 2012 - 9:22 AM

Can you say neighborhood urban farm? Neighborhood garden? It’s amazing what you learn about food and agribusiness, and nature when you garden. And you get exercise too!

Athena May 21, 2012 - 9:40 AM

Wow, I’m not that surprised. It’s unfortunate that you find fruit and veggies wrapped up like that to hide te truth.

MAria May 21, 2012 - 10:15 AM

Guys welcome to my block. I live in the Bronx, and YES my fruits and veggies does look like this.

I am not surprise.

Jocelyn May 21, 2012 - 10:24 AM

yes and they have the nerve to be called SUPER FRESH MARKET

Estella November 29, 2012 - 7:03 PM

Sometimes, yes. But for me, a part of that is just loving in Jamaica. If I were to go to the more expensive supermarkets that have the pretty fruits I wouldn’t be able to afford the other items on my list… I just try to buy as fresh & as local as I can. Other than that, I can’t control it so such is life

Stefanie December 2, 2012 - 5:12 PM

There’s a place in dfw called Aldi. Affordable, but their stuff is wrapped. Glad for your article. Good thing I don’t shop there much these days….I prefer Albertson’s or Central Market

Megan December 2, 2012 - 6:44 PM

That is revolting. We have a really nice Shop Rite in my neighborhood that offers some organic produce. I also shop at Whole Foods and a small co-op for my groceries. Unforunately, I have sen produce like the ones you posted at corner stores 🙁

Wendy December 14, 2012 - 8:49 PM

I currently go to Aldi’s or Price Rite because Walmart sucks. There’s nothing better for body or soul than your own fresh veggies, herbs and fruit–they taste better too! As for the issue of bad produce in urban areas I know what you mean they jack everything up for us. Although, I did notice that some people (my apartments included this spring) are growing community gardens in urban areas here in Springfield MA. Living in the N.E. makes growing hard in the winter.

Lucas February 17, 2013 - 11:40 AM

Here’s the deal with finding damaged produce in a grocery store. I work in produce at a local grocery store and let me tell you the reason why produce goes bad. Some employees tend to slack off with rotating stock and maintains expiration dates, and if you notice the more of a product you have, the higher the chance of finding mold spores. For instance, I have about 15 different varieties of apples. Now imagine spending half your shift going through at most 800 apples looking for soft spots or other defects, seems time consuming doesn’t it? Now take into consideration that us produce workers also have to:

-Stock the shelves and displays
-unload pallets and rotate the boxes they come in (which takes 3 or 4 hours to do alone)
-prepare items such as fruit cups or soup bunches
-order every item that needs to be ordered
-and most of all, tidy up the produce section because customers like leave a mess

Lynn March 29, 2013 - 5:37 PM

People need to really start seeking out their local farmer’s markets more also. Not only does it help the local economy but the food has not traveled/ sat as long.

Kathrin July 4, 2013 - 12:14 PM

I agree but I am always sensitive to the community around me. Sometimes that just is not an option financially. The closest farmers market to me requires a car or two buses and lots of folks in my community don’t have the resources for either. We need to start encouraging farmers to sell produce at street-side stands IN food deserts. Being able to get to a farmers market outside of our local community is a privilege that not everyone has access to. It SHOULD be a right!

Tiff May 12, 2013 - 1:05 AM

Yes, at my local grocery, this is what the try to sell at a discount. Why would anyone want to pay, even at a discount, for rotten food?! Farmer’s Market season is here, and I can’t wait!

Kathrin July 4, 2013 - 12:12 PM

This is why I go to Farmer Joe’s rather than some of the other stores here. I want to be able to touch and smell what I am buying! I live in a food desert so I have to travel 20 minutes, but I am lucky to have a car as opposed to my neighbors.

I’d love to go to the Lake Merritt Farmers Market (Oakland), but I can never get marking.

Whoever got these groceries needs to get their money back!!!

*Kat August 27, 2013 - 9:46 AM

this is exactly what veggies look like in my neighborhood, in AND out of plastic wrap. i have to travel WELL out my neighborhood to get veggies and fruit, and no farmers market nearby. -___-

jim bob June 18, 2017 - 9:16 AM

in northern Wisconsin, we really have no other alternative. The nearest large grocery store is a 80 mile round trip! We are trapped into buying half rotten produce and meat that has been infused with pink slime that adds weight per pound and tastes terrible and is close to twice the regular price!

Comments are closed.