Check Your Produce

This past weekend has reminded me of an important practice to do when you are shopping in the grocery store, especially in summer. You should always try to check your produce before you leave the store. I mean to check for mold and nasty spots. This is especially true for berries. I had to throw a few dollars into the trash this weekend because I forgot/didn’t consider doing this important task.

If you are in the United States, you are probably aware of the massive heat wave we had through a large section of the country. I really don’t enjoy a 110 heat index. For my readers who don’t live in the US that means that even if the actual temp is lower, it feels like it is about 43 degrees Celsius. Not fun. This basically means that everything and everyone just want to escape the heat. It also means that without air conditioning, perishable food doesn’t last long. So it makes the above concept even more important.

So part of my grocery list this weekend included a loaf of bread, tomatoes, and 2lbs (a little less than a kilo) of strawberries. The loaf of bread was intended for sandwiches. Now while I can and do enjoy making bread from scratch, I have no desire to heat up my house further by baking bread in my oven. Yeah, not going to happen. So when I was waiting in line to buy my food, I flipped over the loaf of bread to read the nutrition facts. I was going to buy a brand that I haven’t chosen before. However, I didn’t even end up reading the facts because I saw a quarter or nickle size (about a Euro coin) spot of mold on the bread. I pointed it out to the cashier and she had someone get me a different loaf of bread. Thankfully, I didn’t see any mold on the new loaf and since I put my bread into the freezer anyway, I felt good about the purchase.

Now where I should have taken a second look was with the strawberries. They were on sale this week at my local grocery store. My plan was to buy a package and cut them up to put them into the freezer for later baking. Now I did take a look over on the package and didn’t see any issues. However, I didn’t open up the package, which I could have done theoretically. I am not generally inclined to open packaging at the store even if it is a fruit carton that I can look into. I am really not sure why I don’t like opening the package. I am perfectly comfortable opening an egg carton and moving the eggs slightly to ensure that none of them are cracked. It just doesn’t occur to me to do something similar with produce cartons. So again, I looked around the package (since it was clear with a label) and didn’t see any issues. Unfortunately, when I got home I immediately found mold as soon as I opened the package, right underneath the label. Now could I have picked through the strawberries instead of tossing the whole lot. Possibly, but I am not confident in my knowledge of how to tell what would be good and what wouldn’t. Therefore, I tossed the whole lot.

Now I should probably address the idea that I should have taken it back to store and get a refund or replacement. Is that a possibility? Yeah, I probably could have done that but similarly, I really don’t feel comfortable explaining that hey, you should probably check your produce because you sold me moldy fruit. I sadly don’t have that level of social skill/confidence yet. Secondly, I am not really sure how effective getting a replacement could be since there is always a possibility for mold hiding between fruit even if there isn’t any on the top. I could have ended up with another moldy batch since I doubt that the store would have checked every strawberry in the container. So out the strawberries go. I probably will end up getting frozen strawberries later on since I plan on baking with them. So that is the end of the mold, thank goodness. The tomatoes were packaged in a way that I could see almost all the sides and they were separated from each other. I didn’t see any mold even when I got home and have already eaten 3 of the four. Do I wish that I didn’t have to buy tomatoes prepackaged? Yeah. Unfortunately that was the situation at the grocery store this week. Maybe later I will finally check out the farmers market in my area.

So, a good thing to do when you are at the store is to always double check your produce or other perishable items. This can not only include bread or strawberries but also things like milk. Milk jugs (which is what we have in the US) can leak. I had a previous issue at the grocery store with this problem. A quick side note: milk and eggs in the US are always refrigerated even though in other countries such as Spain, they are dealt with in a way that does not require refrigeration. Have you had similar issues with produce at the grocery store? Would this issue have even occurred in your country? What kinds of issues would you have regarding food and the grocery store? Please answer below with your comments and thanks for reading.

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