Who Taught You What Good Produce Looks Like?

Like many people, I grew up shopping for vegetables with my mother. She was the one who taught me what too much give in a tomato meant, how to choose my cucumbers, and whether the lettuce was starting to wilt. I watched her do it and learned from her; from a pile of veggies, she could always select the ones that would be good long enough to eat at home that week.

It’s hard to compare my produce with that of the grocery store, though. Especially this late in the season, I pick anything that isn’t ruptured, covered in molds or scars, or full of worms. My tomatoes and squash have little imperfections, and are sometimes covered in cobwebs from where insects tried to make their homes in the vines. I wash them, trim off the spots of disease or damage, and cook them till they are all alike. The home-grown flavor is the same whether the original tomato had a big spot I had to cut away.

These days, I’ve noticed more than the beautiful produce at the grocery store – certainly, if I’m going to buy an avocado I’m going to pore over the pile before I select, but I also notice half-price lettuce that needs to be eaten, or the piles of older potatoes that have been marked down so they’ll sell fast. I’m starting to see the marginal foods as beautiful too, because the truth is that the worst spots can be cut away and we don’t waste the rest of the food connected to those spots. My mother’s knowledge still guides me to keep myself from eating things that will make me sick, and I’m sure most people reading this are also grateful to someone in their life for guiding them toward foods that will help and not harm them, but more and more, I find myself drawn to use creatively that which would be unappetizing to others.


19 comments on “Who Taught You What Good Produce Looks Like?

  1. I get it. I wrote a post a while back about always taking the ear of corn that has the worm at the end….they only munch on the sweetest ears. ☺

    Liked by 3 people

  2. The Chaos Realm says:

    Stores throw out so much produce (I worked in restaurants and in a health food store). When I worked for a wildlife rescue place, I asked local stores to donate the produce to the animals. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Duda says:

    I learned the “waste not, want not” adage when I was young, too. My parents always acted as if we were poor as church mice (poor mice), and it wasn’t until I learned a little about money that I realized they were actually conserving. Acting with stewardship. I like your message.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. If your potatoes grow eyes and you are close to spring, you can always plant that section. One section will yield a free bag of potatoes. We’ve also planted sprouting onions and they yield a beautiful flower.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. the narrator says:

    I loved what you imply. This quest for perfection ingrained into us with no vile intentions has probably overflowed into other aspects of acceptance as well. Accepted the harmless but damaged produce and learning to appreciate them I think is an amazing step towards humanity. 🙂 Awesome work. Really.


  6. Mac Logan says:

    Spot on. Being conditioned (manipulated?) to buy visual perfection – not always with best taste – is no way to get the best and widest consumption from produce. Thanks for this.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Smiling_Angie says:

    I grew up on a vegetable farm. I was taught at an early age what to look for when selecting produce. One of my favorite things in the world is eating a fresh tomato, still warm from the sun.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Love this post. My grandmother and mother passed along similar knowledge. Such good memories.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Boho Ndongo says:

    this picture makes me so happy ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Bec says:

    I’m always hunting in the ‘reduced’ aisle at the supermarket – and come away with all sorts – smoked salmon after it’s sell by date 🙂 yes it was my dad who taught me all the useful veg and produce knowledge – my mum hates cooking

    Liked by 1 person

  11. My parents, especially my dad, taught me how to pick out “good” vegetables and I still think about those warm memories when I go grocery shopping!

    Liked by 1 person

  12. jr cline says:

    My grandfather out in his garden.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. N. says:

    What a lovely thought. It’s true that the food that ‘needs eating’ is important too but so few of us see it that way: we just want the best produce, not the stuff that might go bad quicker.. There’s probably a lot more wastage because of this way of thinking and that’s a sad thought indeed

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Love home grown/farm grown produce. Tastes so good.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. I grew up in the contryside and my grandmother has been growing her vegetables for ever. You’re so right to save any inch of the tasty, succulent tomato even if it doesn’t look like the ones in the super market.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. I really think every child should have a garden in it´s life – the aroma of a freshly picked strawberry or tomato is with you for life.

    Liked by 2 people

  17. TheJamJar says:

    Love this post! We waste so much food based on sell-by-dates and imperfections… It would be great if everyone got back to basics!


  18. loveandumami says:

    Great job spreading awareness! Ugly produce needs love too ❤

    Liked by 1 person

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