CHOICE membership

How fresh is 'fresh' fruit and veg?



Farmers’ Markets fabulous. Fruit and vegetables often good for a fortnight. Traders often tell you how to store food.
e.g leave out Apricots one wants to eat. Place extra in container in fridge with lid off. Put lid on after 1 hour.


FRESH is a word with a specific meaning. Perhaps accurate labelling eg. the picked date might help. Strawberries from the supermarket are never the same as “fresh” and I wonder what accurate labelling might say.


Last year I made a resolution to “shop less” at supermarkets and more at grocers or farmers markets and to buy produce that is in season. I’ve been happy with the improved quality by making these changes.

I eat out a lot and I’ve found that buying from grocers or direct from producers has meant that the fruit and veg I buy lasts longer - in case I don’t have a chance to cook it the few days after I’ve bought it. I don’t expect that anything I buy at the supermarket will be fresh as they have to transport and store it before distributing within the chain - or they’re selling imported goods or stored goods out of season.

I also find anything in a container to be hard to judge - like berries. Sometimes the top and bottom will look good but they’ve packed not-so-good products into the middle.

I also really like buying Harris Farm’s “imperfect picks”. It’s always in season produce that tastes fresh but just doesn’t look exactly right (large zucchinis, off coloured products) - you get a pretty substantial discount too.


I think you will also find a lot of our prime product leaves our shores for overseas. What we get left with is what cannot be sold to discerning buyers in other countries.


I wouldn’t expect the big supermarkets to have fresher fruit or veg than a market. I only shop at organic markets so I know the fruit and veg is seasonal and as “fresh” as can be and you can even see the difference between organic market fruit and veg and supermarket organic fruit and veg. You also know you don’t get the chemicals. When you see a supermarket apple for example, they are so shiny, looking almost perfect and yet they taste like crap. In nature, this is not the case, people have been conditioned to buy fruit and veg that looks perfect.


I wonder what the Vitamin C content is of the fruit that we buy at the supermarkets?
I had a blood test that showed very low Vit C. I eat a ton of fresh vegetables & fruit but still low Vit C. How many other people out there are low on Vit C? It would be interesting to have some analysis done comparing the fresh fruit straight off the tree to that of the fruit in the supermarket! I suspect that the storage of the fruit & veg depletes them of the Vit C content.


Agree with Gordon and others! Think Fred’s suggestion of date stamping useful. My biggest peeve is avocados. Rock hard when you buy them; when they ‘ripen’, they’re rotten inside. Quite a contrast to those bought from roadside vendors in the area my son lives in. mostly they last up to 6 weeks. One grower told me its six weeks from picking until they hit the supermarket shelves.

We also grow a lot of our own, and the difference is amazing.


I too made the decision to vacate the supermarkets, shop locally and support the smaller provisioner’s.
Personally, I just didn’t want to give the major food chains any more of my well earned $$$!

I know really enjoy buying produce meal to meal and choosing fresh seasonal vegetable and fruits as ingredients. Mind you I don’t have a family to feed and am quiet happy to eat later in the evening - Spanish style!

I too like Harris Farm “imperfect picks”. Also you can’t beat a market - Haymarket in Chinatown Sydney has some great fruit and veg, at reasonable prices to.


I find stone fruit very difficult to choose. It’s picked before becoming ripe then becomes soft and wrinkly after a few days. And I have bought horrible dry stone fruit from an independent grocer. So I generally avoid buying it. I have some fruit trees at home and grow some vegetables when I can.
Tomatoes are the worst as they are usually completely tasteless wherever I buy them. Consumers have caused this, as they don’t want to buy fruit which damages easily, so produce is developed with thick skins and picked too early.


I don’t expect the fruit and veg sold through supermarket chains to be a fresh, and generally it isn’t. Their delivery systems and reliance on cold storage can’t complete with independent grocers who (generally) visit the markets every day.
That said the fruit we buy from independent grocers can be disappointing, particularly, apples, bananas, tomatoes (tasteless regardless of type), avocados, spinach, strawberries, corn (seems to be always prepacked and prepared these days).
Judging quality - apples, stone fruit, avocados, corn, rockmelon.
I agree with the comments about the grocers in Europe, what looks good, smells good and tastes good. Why can’t it be the same here? And we do not live close to a growers market, more the pity.


Very few items we buy as “fresh” are really that. Bananas are a good example, they are cut green and sent to ripeners who then store them and when needed gas them to ripen the fruit. This is controlled so that there are always ripe and ripening Bananas for sale. Tomatoes for the most part are treated the same way as Bananas and are stored green in cold storage until they are gassed to ripen them. Apples are stored in Cold Storage and special atmospheres to slow ageing and can be a couple of seasons old before they reach your grocer. A hint to look for in Apples is to look at the stalk, if it is green and plump it is likely fairly fresh, if it is brown and withered or missing it is likely to have been at least a year old.

Some vegetables are cooled to a very low temperature to inhibit ageing but still must be used within a few weeks of harvest. A lettuce farmer may have loaded the produce a day or two before it reaches the Markets, then it is stored until sold which may take a week so a lettuce could be up to 2 weeks old before you buy it. To make it look fresher the grocer can cut the brown end of the stalk off.

Many farmer’s markets are just stocked by people who go to the Wholesale Markets eg Rocklea in Brisbane and buy produce and then unpack and display on stalls. In my experience some are stocked by real producers with real fresh produce but this is unfortunately more an exception than a rule in large towns and cities and nearby locations.

  1. I don’t expect my local grocer to have any produce that is any fresher than Supermarkets but I am also hesitant about Growers Markets but live in hope that they are fresher.

  2. Potatoes, pumpkin, radish, citrus, apples, berries, lettuce, tomatoes, bananas, capsicum, onions, carrots and garlic

  3. Pumpkins, citrus, apples, tomatoes, garlic


Yum, we never see cherries like this in the supermarkets.
The best cherries I’ve eaten were in Tasmania.


Supermarkets created the expectation. It was another way to dominate the market and push small operators who sell seasonally out of business.
Now the majority of consumers don’t know what’s in season as its always there.
Coles/Woolworths fruit and veg is almost all absolutely a poor second to seasonal fresh produce.


I buy the kids size prepackaged pears, I prefer smaller sized fruit to the huge pieces often seen in supermarkets. The trouble with the prepackaged fruit is not so much it all ripens at the same time, is that the centers are rotten even though the fruit looks good.
I am fully aware that supermarkets buy fruit as it is beginning to ripen, cold store it and then force (gas) the fruit to ripen. This will explain why a large number of fruit items are rotten at there core.
Vegetables are just about the same, tomatoes that are firm being all watery inside, simply due to cold storage.
I know better than to keep tomatoes in a fridge, mine sit happily in a bowl on the bench and last up to 6 weeks, my eggs live in a clay chook shaped container just for eggs and are not in the fridge.

At least I know when I buy from my green grocer, he has been to the wholesale market to buy the produce and it is a darn site fresher than the supermarkets.


Gordon that was totally uncalled for, unfair, cruel and inhuman to post such a picture! I remember such expressions of delectable, delicious, mouth-watering, appetising, flavoursome, flavourful, toothsome, inviting, enjoyable, very palatable, succulent, luscious, rich, sweet; tasty, scrumptious, delish, scrummy, yummy, flavorous, sapid cherries when I lived in the Adelaide Hills. Sadly in Central Australia they are but a distant memory …



Where do I begin. Woolworths continues to advertise itself as the fresh food people, yet their broccolli is usually dry, seedy and purple, their cauliflowers are rarely white and their packaged apples are now extremely bruised (they hide the bruised bits when packaging them), which wasn’t the case a few years back. A couple of times we had to take a whole punnet of apples back because each and every one was excessively bruised. Corn is hit and miss too, in both the cut/packaged fresh produce and the ears. You can’t really tell with the corn until you cook and eat it. It has gotten so bad we now make special trips to a green grocer, which is out of our way, simply so we can get actual fresh produce instead of the stale/limp rubbish that Woolies has on offer.


I think the meaning of fresh is maybe totally distorted…supermarkets mean by fresh …cold to the touch. Fruit and vegs are totally tasteless. Tomatoes are hard a rock…my sharp knife does not make it. Potatoes are often green. Carrots are packed in reddish plastic so they appear “nice”… and so on and so on. Trick and deceit .
I grow my own and I am lucky. Fresh is fresh not disguised.


Very happy to see Choice picking up on this. I buy supermarket fruit and veg (and meat and in fact everything) only as a last last last resort. There’s less variety, less flavour and I am nervous of the way the big chains seem to be inserting themselves into so many parts of life (insurance, credit, petrol to name a few). Their price for convenience is too high for me.


We do not use supermarkets to purchase fruit or veg. But buy these at the local fruit shop in the south Beaumaris Concourse.
The most difficult fruit to judge for quality is pineapple, and the most difficult to judge when ready for eating are the stone fruits.


We live in the SunshineCoast Old . We never buy fruit and veg at the supermarkets . We are plant based eaters and buy all our F &V at the growers markets organic or spray free produce where we can get it . Even there you find sellers who have gone to the Brisbane wholesale market and packaged the good to sell as local . I quiz the stall holders about where their produce comes from how they grow and their chemical use , the responses are often interesting you can generally pick the ones just saying what yo want to hear. Unfortunately we have lost some good produce because it was too hard for the farmers to get backpacker assistance due to government changes. To us all produce from the supermarket lots and tastes like plastic !