It’s the age old question really that we intuitively know but have just really forgotten along the way. It seems that the supermarkets have forgotten as well but I don’t really claim to know the answer for the big chains as they struggle to keep up with supplying so many people. It is relatively easy for them to provide produce in season, but when it is out of season, that is when we need as consumers savvier.
However as consumers there is a huge move now towards knowing and understanding where our food comes from, how it is processed and what is the best option for our families.
The simple answer and reality if that fruit and veg is picked fully ripe fresh off the trees, ready to sell to customers. Supermarket produce is generally picked green to last on the shelf or stored in cool rooms for long periods. Produce can undergo additional processes such as waxing, fungicide treatments or gas ripening.
What you get when you buy directly from the farmer is as fresh as you can get it without having to grow it yourself. The time from picking to purchasing is minimal and you as a consumer can then be more confident that the fruit has had time to develop flavour and retains its nutrients. It’s super fresh, naturally ripe, naturally coloured, hand picked and packed and presented the way it is supposed to be.
This is optimal for farmers as well as they can control how their produce is handled and appreciated. Let me tell you farmers grow produce because they love it and generally have enormous pride in what they grown. It is very rewarding for them to see customers enjoying their produce, trusting them and coming back for more.
My final tip would be check out what is seasonal and try and stick to purchasing that produce only if you have to shop at the big stores. Make sure you check out where the produce is sourced from when it is out of season as we found out with the frozen berry scandal, produce that is sourced from other countries can go through different criteria to what our stringent standards are here in Australia. Discover where your local markets are and make your way there. You will quickly get to know your favourite store holders that you love and trust so the process becomes very quick each week.
For some great recipe ideas on what to use your fruit and veges for have a look at the cookbooks in our bookshop.