Let shoppers taste and see summer produce

05/24/2013 10:58:00 AM
Amelia Freidline

Amelia FreidlineAmelia Freidline,
Copy Editor
There’s nothing quite like a nice ripe — you fill in the blank.

I was delighted, when I visited the grocery store a couple of weeks ago, to find displays already well-stocked with fresh corn and other spring produce.

Because it had snowed in Lenexa, Kan., home to The Packer, only a week before, I had mentally slipped back into winter and had forgotten that other states were already in full harvest mode.

Now, with most of the country’s growing areas free from lingering cold weather, spring deals are well underway and ramping up toward summer crops. Which takes me back to my opening statement.

Many consumers have been waiting all winter for that first sweet taste of spring peas, summer corn or watermelon. Now that those crops are rolling in, it’s a great time to have sampling stations set up so leery shoppers can rest assured your produce tastes every bit as good as what they’ve been dreaming about.

Take peaches, for example.

It’s a marvel of modern growing and shipping methods that we can get fresh stone fruit from South America here in the U.S. in February, but to me, there’s nothing quite like a nice ripe, juicy summer peach.

During an April shopping trip I was shocked to see a display advertising U.S.-grown peaches. Suspicious of the fruit’s quality, I gave all the tote bags of fruit a thorough examination while I weighed whether to buy one.

The fruit was small and a little wrinkly, and some of the peaches were heading toward the too-soft side. For many shoppers, that would have meant three strikes and the purchase of another type of fruit.

But … they were peaches. I hadn’t had a fresh peach since August or September.

I capitulated. Fortunately, the fruit was sweet and juicy despite its forlorn appearance, so my first peach experience of the season was a success.

I wonder, though, how many customers who were turned off by the peaches’ appearance would have added them to their shopping carts had there been a tray of fruit to sample.

You may have a high-quality product, but most budget-conscious consumers aren’t willing to spring for high-dollar items like fresh cherries unless they know beforehand that the fruit is going to taste good.

Or take tomatoes. My grandpa, who eats grapefruit or cantaloupe every morning for breakfast, depending on what’s in season, routinely comments on the lack of flavor in slicing tomatoes.

“Why can’t they grow a tomato that tastes as good as the ones you grow in the backyard?” he asks.

While I tell him growers have to consider factors like harvesting and shipping when they develop varieties, I have to admit few tomatoes in the store taste as good as the ones you grow yourself.

As newer varieties like the Tasti-Lee, from Oceana, Calif.-based Bejo Seeds Inc., reach a wider market, however, a little strategic sampling could help make converts out of those pining for the taste of backyard tomatoes.

afreidline@thepacker.com

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