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What to Do with Bad Produce, or “Stand Behind Your Fruit!”

What to Do with Bad Produce, or “Stand Behind Your Fruit!”
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  • Post #31 - August 12th, 2013, 3:11 pm
    Post #31 - August 12th, 2013, 3:11 pm Post #31 - August 12th, 2013, 3:11 pm
    The apricots I bought at Green Grocer, forgot where they were from, went into shrub.
  • Post #32 - August 12th, 2013, 3:40 pm
    Post #32 - August 12th, 2013, 3:40 pm Post #32 - August 12th, 2013, 3:40 pm
    About the "bother" factor: right after I've taken time off from work to drive to a grocery store, spend a half hour or hour or more finding the things on my list, paying $50-100 or more for them, loading them in the car, driving back home, unloading the car, getting frozen things in the freezer and fresh things in the refrigerator and everything else put away, and starting to make dinner--by which time I've been either standing or driving a car for between an hour and two hours... right then, and probably for the rest of the evening, it's too much bother (and time, and gas) to go back to return $3 of bad produce, if I even happen to notice it then. Ugh. And I'm sure the stores know it's too much bother.

    One thing I try to do about something that's gone bad before I bought it (say, produce or chicken or milk): I call the store right away, get the customer service desk and say, I was just in your store (a few minutes ago, or last night, or whatever) and bought X and got home and found out it had gone bad. They generally always say, bring it back and we'll give you a refund. I say, can I bring it back sometime in the next day or two? I just got home and am trying to make dinner; I can't drive all the way back there right now, and they say sure. And I ask for the name of the person I talked to and I write it on the receipt and circle the date and time. Then I put the receipt in my wallet, put X in the fridge, and take it back the next or next-next day when I am out again.

    This motivates me to make the stop to return X and get my money back while I'm out running other errands, rather than making a special trip, which I know I won't get around to making. I'd like to think it also gives me some credibility when I show up to return X that I didn't just wait for a few days for it to go bad before trying to return it.

    So I'd say it is worth it to me to return food that went bad in the store, if it can be combined with other errands on another day rather than requiring a special trip. Whether the store tracks it and looks at their handling processes or talks to their supplier or chalks it up to shrinkage or does nothing, I don't really care (except that if it happens more than, say 2 or 3 times in a year I'd probably steer clear of that store in the future). I assume they're watching their bottom line very closely, and how much attention they should pay to the various factors that influence that bottom line is their research project---their mission, if they choose to accept it---not mine.
    "Your swimming suit matches your eyes, you hold your nose before diving, loving you has made me bananas!"
  • Post #33 - August 12th, 2013, 11:24 pm
    Post #33 - August 12th, 2013, 11:24 pm Post #33 - August 12th, 2013, 11:24 pm
    Is this what the kids call a "flame," David? You know damn well how to tell if the things are ripe: pick one, sniff deeply, holding the stonefruit very close to your nose, and give it a firm squeeze. If it smells and feels ripe, it probably is. Can I really be the first one to call you on this?
  • Post #34 - August 13th, 2013, 5:50 am
    Post #34 - August 13th, 2013, 5:50 am Post #34 - August 13th, 2013, 5:50 am
    JeffB wrote:Is this what the kids call a "flame," David? You know damn well how to tell if the things are ripe: pick one, sniff deeply, holding the stonefruit very close to your nose, and give it a firm squeeze. If it smells and feels ripe, it probably is. Can I really be the first one to call you on this?


    Bad (mealy, juiceless, flavorless) fruit can, of course, be ripe-looking and -smelling. But determining ripeness is not really what this thread is about; here, we're talking about what to do with fruit that fools you into thinking it's good. Jeff, I believe that, in the heat of the moment, you may have mistakenly put your inflammatory question into the wrong thread; you probably meant to put this incendiary interjection into the thread entitled Please Don't Wipe Your Nose on His Peaches. (Remember that exchange we had about unclean field hands from godknowswhere touching our fruit and how that was as bad or worse than an Oak Parker smearing the fruit across his or her nostrils to determine ripeness?). Based on this analysis of your posting, you may want to move your scorching observation there, as we already have one unhinged outburst in this thread. :lol: :twisted:

    Glad we had this talk and sorry that you're still feeling burned from a prior conversation. :wink:
    “Nobody exists on purpose. Nobody belongs anywhere. Everybody’s gonna die. Come watch TV?”
  • Post #35 - August 13th, 2013, 6:17 am
    Post #35 - August 13th, 2013, 6:17 am Post #35 - August 13th, 2013, 6:17 am
    Katie wrote:So I'd say it is worth it to me to return food that went bad in the store, if it can be combined with other errands on another day rather than requiring a special trip. Whether the store tracks it and looks at their handling processes or talks to their supplier or chalks it up to shrinkage or does nothing, I don't really care (except that if it happens more than, say 2 or 3 times in a year I'd probably steer clear of that store in the future). I assume they're watching their bottom line very closely, and how much attention they should pay to the various factors that influence that bottom line is their research project---their mission, if they choose to accept it---not mine.


    Pretty much my feeling re: the value of the extra effort, though I do hope my pushback has some effect (though as zoid observed upstream, it's perhaps unlikely a customer complaint ever has that much effect given all the players in the supply chain).

    However...

    I had an interesting exchange at da Jewels yesterday. I went over to the store on Madison in Oak Park, and asked the produce man, Sergio, if he had celeriac. When he said "No, we have a small section and so we can't carry everything," I was getting ready to leave and happened to ask in passing, "I suppose I'm the only person asking for celeriac, hunh?"

    "No,"said Sergio, starting to think, "you aren't the only one. Some others have asked. Hey, I'm going to order some right now. I have to send in my order in a half an hour. I'll put them here [motioning to shelf]. You can get them tomorrow."

    That kind of responsiveness from a "big store" surprised me. We shook hands, me expressing gratitude for his customer service orientation.

    Now, I would hazard that if in the future I get a bad piece of fruit from Jewel, I could go to Sergio, and tell him about it. If he got two or three negative comments about nectarines or peaches or papaya, he seems like the kind of guy who might do something about it. Like he said, he has a small section and can't stock everything and he seems surprisingly responsive to what customers want. He's the sort of guy who might discontinue a fruit for a while if a few people are complaining about the quality -- and that is a very acceptable collateral benefit of returning bad fruit for a refund.
    “Nobody exists on purpose. Nobody belongs anywhere. Everybody’s gonna die. Come watch TV?”
  • Post #36 - August 14th, 2013, 12:30 am
    Post #36 - August 14th, 2013, 12:30 am Post #36 - August 14th, 2013, 12:30 am
    Hi Flamin Fury peaches are bred by somebody who sells at GCM and a few other markets in the Chicago area. Paul probably has at least 10 different Flamin Fury peaches he has bred. Everything has been late this year because of the cold weather, and the peaches that are being sold now, should be a lot better than the peaches that were sold two weeks ago. Red Haven peaches should be good by this weekend. They just started picking them a few days ago, and Allstar, and Blushing Star are also good peaches. Blushng Star is a white fleshed peach. Red Haven are the most commonly grown peaches in Michigan. There are a few good Flamin Fury peaches too, although all the Flamin Fury peaches are labeled PF#, and most people just tell you that they are Flamin Fury, than tell you which Flamin Fury.
  • Post #37 - August 14th, 2013, 6:09 am
    Post #37 - August 14th, 2013, 6:09 am Post #37 - August 14th, 2013, 6:09 am
    Katie wrote:One thing I try to do about something that's gone bad before I bought it (say, produce or chicken or milk): I call the store right away, get the customer service desk and say, I was just in your store (a few minutes ago, or last night, or whatever) and bought X and got home and found out it had gone bad. They generally always say, bring it back and we'll give you a refund. I say, can I bring it back sometime in the next day or two? I just got home and am trying to make dinner; I can't drive all the way back there right now, and they say sure. And I ask for the name of the person I talked to and I write it on the receipt and circle the date and time. Then I put the receipt in my wallet, put X in the fridge, and take it back the next or next-next day when I am out again.

    Calling right away is prudent, and sometimes we've done that, but I just wanted to share that we have returned spoiled/expired food the following day to our Jewel without making that right-away call, and they've never given us a problem. Our Jewel is the one at Ashland and Wellington. Sometimes in fact I've been surprised that they didn't require any "proof" other than our next-day say-so and our receipt, but this has been the case. I have to give them props in the cheerfully refunding your money department.
  • Post #38 - August 14th, 2013, 7:43 am
    Post #38 - August 14th, 2013, 7:43 am Post #38 - August 14th, 2013, 7:43 am
    I have had no problem returning goods to either TJs or Aldi. And unlike the large chains, they don't give you the interrogation when you return the goods.

    I make very few returns so it is not a habit as it is with some shoppers.
  • Post #39 - August 14th, 2013, 10:26 am
    Post #39 - August 14th, 2013, 10:26 am Post #39 - August 14th, 2013, 10:26 am
    jlawrence01 wrote:I have had no problem returning goods to either TJs or Aldi. And unlike the large chains, they don't give you the interrogation when you return the goods.

    Well, like I say in post #38, some of the large chains are quite accommodating in taking returns as well. I've never been interrogated, or even asked to elaborate on my claim that "this food is spoiled," by our Jewel. They simply take me at my word. This is not to say that at times I haven't been prepared to deliver an elaborate rationale, but this has never been necessary.
  • Post #40 - August 14th, 2013, 11:47 am
    Post #40 - August 14th, 2013, 11:47 am Post #40 - August 14th, 2013, 11:47 am
    riddlemay wrote:
    jlawrence01 wrote:I have had no problem returning goods to either TJs or Aldi. And unlike the large chains, they don't give you the interrogation when you return the goods.

    Well, like I say in post #38, some of the large chains are quite accommodating in taking returns as well. I've never been interrogated, or even asked to elaborate on my claim that "this food is spoiled," by our Jewel. They simply take me at my word. This is not to say that at times I haven't been prepared to deliver an elaborate rationale, but this has never been necessary.


    I would think in most cases that store personnel recognize that it takes an effort to bring back fruit, or even make a claim about bad fruit, and that anyone who does is most likely telling the truth. Even if they're not, unless there's a clear pattern of behavior, it's advisable from a customer service perspective to simply give a refund, and I think a lot of places probably just do that and avoid creating bad blood or a scene.
    “Nobody exists on purpose. Nobody belongs anywhere. Everybody’s gonna die. Come watch TV?”
  • Post #41 - August 16th, 2013, 5:31 pm
    Post #41 - August 16th, 2013, 5:31 pm Post #41 - August 16th, 2013, 5:31 pm
    Re: previous unhinged outburst regarding allegedly inexcusable purchases from major grocery stores.

    Rob Gardner's The Local Beet reviews local grocery stores where you can get good local produce.
    “Nobody exists on purpose. Nobody belongs anywhere. Everybody’s gonna die. Come watch TV?”
  • Post #42 - August 16th, 2013, 8:27 pm
    Post #42 - August 16th, 2013, 8:27 pm Post #42 - August 16th, 2013, 8:27 pm
    Hi- Dominick's did have semi local peaches tonight from Eckert's which is in Illinois outside St. Louis, and they had Michigan blueberries. The peaches were major overripe, and they were $1.99 a pound.

    You can find Michigan blueberries the majority of the time at the chain stores, but a lot of them are from North Bay Produce which is based in Traverse City, which is 300 miles from here. Local places like Caputo's are more likely to carry local produce, because an individual grower can supply them with enough produce. Dominick's and Jewel only like to deal with farmers that have enough volume to supply all of their stores, and that is why they primarily get their produce from California or Mexico.
  • Post #43 - August 30th, 2013, 6:20 pm
    Post #43 - August 30th, 2013, 6:20 pm Post #43 - August 30th, 2013, 6:20 pm
    Stopped by the Farmer's Market in Occidental (Sonoma County) CA this afternoon, in search of ripe peaches. Visited an old-timer who had some beautiful ones displayed. "Any of these ripe?" I asked hopefully. He smiled, reached into the box, selected a peach, and said 'Here, eat this!" As my teeth sunk in my chin was instantly dripping with sweet, peach-ily aromatic juice. EUREKA! thought I. So we started talking, and, in the end, after buying some peaches, I asked him the eternal question 'how come I haven't had a good apricot in years?' He was very succinct: they don't ship. When they're ripe, the softest squeeze can leave fingerprints in them. 'So, when I have them--and I have plenty, in season--I have to keep them back here, behind the counter, with me; otherwise, everyone squeezes them and ruins them.' It also turns out that apricots on any given tree ripen at different times, but the growers pick a whole tree all at once. Hence even if there are a few ripe ones on the tree, most of them aren't.

    So now we know...

    Geo
    Sooo, you like wine and are looking for something good to read? Maybe *this* will do the trick! :)
  • Post #44 - August 30th, 2013, 8:51 pm
    Post #44 - August 30th, 2013, 8:51 pm Post #44 - August 30th, 2013, 8:51 pm
    Geo,

    Do apricots continue to ripen like peaches? Or once picked, that is it?

    Regards,
    Cathy2

    "You'll be remembered long after you're dead if you make good gravy, mashed potatoes and biscuits." -- Nathalie Dupree
    Facebook, Twitter, Greater Midwest Foodways, Road Food 2012: Podcast
  • Post #45 - August 30th, 2013, 9:30 pm
    Post #45 - August 30th, 2013, 9:30 pm Post #45 - August 30th, 2013, 9:30 pm
    C2,

    I didn't ask that excellent question, but I must infer from his comments that, no, you have to pick an apricot ripe.

    He was amazing with his peaches, tho'. When I order some, he said 'when do you want them ripe, today, tomorrow or in two days?' and then he proceded to say that he could quite accurately predict ripeness. But he wasn't this way re: 'cots.

    I guess we need to find a 'cot farmer if we want to get ripe apricots... :(

    Geo
    Sooo, you like wine and are looking for something good to read? Maybe *this* will do the trick! :)
  • Post #46 - August 31st, 2013, 6:39 pm
    Post #46 - August 31st, 2013, 6:39 pm Post #46 - August 31st, 2013, 6:39 pm
    Apricots, like apples, bananas, melons, tomatoes, avocados, blackberries, kiwis, plums, peaches, and pears, are climacteric fruits, which continue to ripen after picking. Citrus fuits, grapes, raspberries, and strawberries, in contrast, are non-climacteric--they do not ripen after picking.
    "Your swimming suit matches your eyes, you hold your nose before diving, loving you has made me bananas!"
  • Post #47 - December 2nd, 2019, 1:53 pm
    Post #47 - December 2nd, 2019, 1:53 pm Post #47 - December 2nd, 2019, 1:53 pm
    Brown bananas and squishy avocados no more? Food tech developed in Chicago and elsewhere could keep your produce from going bad.

    https://www.chicagotribune.com/business ... l#nws=true
    Hors D'oeuvre: A ham sandwich cut into forty pieces.
    - Jack Benny

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