This article contains key phrases for:
- Getting to know produce managers and wholesalers
- Finding the best quality and deals on fresh fruits and vegetables
- How to buy in bulk your first time at a produce market
- What to do to maintain a good relationship as a customer
But first, a quick hello back from Pennsylvania! I have just returned from my 7-week stay in Arizona and have had the experience of a lifetime. I really enjoyed meeting tons of great new people, learning the Uzbek language, walking and hiking around Phoenix with great vistas and breathtaking sunsets, and so much more. (You can check out my entire day by day journal at my blog UzbekBrian if you like.) Having come back home I was inspired to write an article for the site and share some new ideas with you today.
Let me tell you, if you are from the East Coast or elsewhere around the world, you would not believe the amazing availability and prices that I was able to find just within easy walking, driving, or free public transportation around my dorm at Arizona State University. Every time I shopped I was simply stunned at how enjoyable it was to eat a high-fruit diet there. Plus the freshness of fruit works so well in the heat. From what I have gleaned it seems that the West Coast really is the place for me, at least in terms of diet, but I think also in terms of weather, vibe, activities, facilities, and so on.
Here are just some of my favorite fruits I ate while in Arizona:
Phoenix Area Stonefruit Finds
Apriums – around 1.99lb at the Safeway, very good and sweet and velvety
Regular apricots – only 99c or 1.99/lb sometimes! Got a deal on organic for 49c/lb!
Red apricots – 2.99/lb at Safeway, 3.99/lb at Whole Foods, very ripe and juicy!
White peaches – lot of different cultivars, no more than 1.99/lb ever, sometimes 99c/lb
Yellow peaches – also many varieties, sometimes even under 99c/lb and grown nearby
White nectarines – one of my staples. Negotiated 25lb cases for $28 at Sunflower Market
Yellow nectarines – also very good, sometimes very large and sweet. ~1.99/lb
Donut peaches – found at Mekong Supermarket and Sunflower Market for 1.99-2.99/lb
Donut nectarines – found only once at Mekong for 1.69/lb, totally delicious white variety
Sugar plums – found at Mekong sometimes Sunflower for 1.99/lb, varying ripeness though
Honey plums - also only at Mekong, never tried them before, 1.99/lb, not too ripe though
Regular plums - all over any supermarket and usually pretty ripe at 1.59/lb maybe
Red pluots – at Whole Foods probably around 2.99/lb depending when you shopped
Phoenix Area Tropical Fruit & More
Jackfruit – yum yum yum! Had never gotten my hands on any. 1.99/lb cut, 99c/lb whole
Durian – available whole at Mekongfor 2.29/lb I think. Always worth it!
Papaya – Hawaiian papaya, Maradol papaya, and Mexican papaya all for decent prices
Persimmons – tracked down some nicely ripe fuyus at Safeway, a bit pricey though
Figs – cookie-dough-ripe black mission figs at both Whole Foods and Sunflower!
Melons – really great melon selection! Honeydew, canary, hami, and even Uzbek melons
Rambutan – varied a lot in freshness, but found a lot of great red ripe ones at 2.99/lb
Lychees – varying sweetnesses of lychees at Mekong and Super L, not the best I’ve had
Dragonfruit – found white dragonfruit at Mekong and Super L, was decent, not too sweet
Young Thai coconuts – never was into these but got hooked, <1.59/ea sometimes
Grapes – organic green were cheaper than PA regular! As low as 88c/lb, usually 1.99/lb
Cherries – found sweet red cherries for 99c/lb. Washington Rainier cherries 4.99/lb too
Dates – California Medjool dates and lots of others if I looked around more probably
Bananas – burro bananas, apple bananas, and other cool baby bananas were here
Other notes: Also found tons of no-sugar-added tropical fruit pulps at Super L Ranch. They had mamey sapote, cashew fruit, soursop, yellow cherries, and more. Very cool to see! Also some cool canned fruits. (Underline text links to videos). Of course, all kinds of apples, oranges, pears, pineapples, kiwis, berries, and other tree fruits were everywhere and at cheap standard prices. Plus, all the free citrus hanging from trees! I mean, except for maybe eggfruit or some other sapotes, I literally dined on every single of my favorite foods. So grateful. And if you think about it, my Californian nectarines or Mexican mangos could practically be considered local!
Here are some photos from my Instagram @geckogreco:
And here are some fruit-featuring videos at the Brian on Health channel:
Now for the article…
Last time in How to Buy Bulk Fruit at Regular Supermarkets, I outlined some of the most helpful tips I’ve accumulated over the years for getting the best out of produce shopping at your local markets. I always like to emphasize the importance of a good supply of fresh fruits and vegetables for a healthy diet for anyone. If you are like me and eat a fruit-based diet, sourcing high-quality, properly ripe, and reasonably-priced fruit is especially pertinent.
It has taken me almost two or three years on this style of diet to truly fully realize the importance of developing a relationship with produce managers and wholesalers. Though supermarkets can be handy and helpful, hands down the best way to get your hands on a good quantity of good quality produce is to BUY BY THE CASE. The absolute easiest and most enjoyable way to get this accomplished is to actually speak with the people who sell the food you’re looking for and negotiate deals.
On the whole, produce sellers are very friendly people who will be extremely happy to see that you are interested in their product, and lots of it. However, there are a couple things you have to realize when you are shopping this way. These people are usually not involved in customer service, so it is important to be clear about what you are looking for. Anyone who is seriously interested in buying bulk produce should be aware of these 4 things:
4 Things to Communicate to Produce Managers
#1: You need to emphasize exactly how much produce you’re talking about. Really, drive that point home, because for most people, produce is decoration. Whether you are a fruit eater like me, or you want to start a small coop, or you have a large family, or you eat tons of vegetables, or you have a restaurant or personal cooking business, or WHATEVER your situation may be, you must communicate yourself well or you will not be helped and will get neither the product nor the prices you want.
#2: You need to let them know that ripeness and sweetness is essential. I have said it before and I will say it again, RIPENESS IS KEY! YOUR CUISINE AND DIET OVERALL WILL SUCK IF YOU ARE EATING UNRIPE FOOD! DO NOT WASTE YOUR MONEY ON AN ENTIRE CASE OF PAPAYAS OR MANGOS TO FIND THEY ARE ENTIRELY GREEN! AND SO ON! Okay, done. Next.
#3: If you are on a budget, you need to be clear about what you can pay. Below we will cover some key phrases if you want to get deals on produce that is just about to go bad and will not be sold, or is perhaps over ripe or unsalable for other reasons. Whether that or you’d just like to focus on more affordable produce with a higher turnover rate like bananas or apples, this will be important to communicate so they don’t end racking you up a giant bill which is not what you had in mind.
#4: If budget is not your first priority, be clear that you are willing to pay, you just need to get hold of the stuff. Sometimes life manifests financial abundance or you have availability in other ways, and it’s not so much the money that’s the problem, it’s that you just need to be able to source the food and must go via someone in order to get it. In this case, tell them: I am willing to pay. I have the money. Now do your job and find me some good fruits and vegetables! Politeness or a small tip doesn’t hurt too.
List of Key Phrases for Negotiating Good Deals on Produce
What to say at your first visit to the store:
#1: I’m interested in buying produce in bulk. Do you think you could you help me out?
#2: I was wondering could talk to the produce manager. I have a couple questions.
#3: I eat a lot of fruits and vegetables and it’s important that I find good quality produce.
#4: I have a special diet and eat a lot of fruit. I was wondering if you could help me out.
What to say at your next couple visits to the store:
#1: Hey! The crazy produce guy/girl is back. What do you have in?
#2: Thanks so much for your help the other day. I’ll definitely be in regularly.
#3: Last time _____ was the best. I’d like to pick up some more today.
#4: I got _____ for _____ last time. Could we do that deal again?
What to say when you are a regular customer:
#1: Hey! Back to load up on food. What looks good today?
#2: I’ve been really enjoying _____, do you have any more of those?
#3: I love to eat what’s in season. What do you have in _____?
#4: Got any _____ today? Do you think you could order them for me?
What to say to show your appreciation and maintain a good relationship:
#1: I know you always have something good ready for me here.
#2: Thank you so much for helping me find what I need. I appreciate it.
#3: I am really grateful for your store and helpful service. Thank you.
#4: I always know to come here for the best selection and prices.
If you really want to get some good deals:
#1: Think you could help me out with a bulk discount since I’m buying _____?
#2: I come here often and appreciate any deals you could offer on _____.
#3: I see you have some _____ over there. Could I give you _____ for that?
#4: Any produce about to go bad? Do you think I could take it off your hands?
If you are interested in any special requests:
#1: Eating organic is important to me. What organic produce do you have available?
#2: I’m looking for exotic fruits (give examples). Would you be able to source them?
#3: I know _____ isn’t in season now, but I’m craving it. Is it available for order?
#4: Tropical fruit is my favorite. Could I place an order for _____? What’s the price?
So there we have it. I hope this article has helped inspire you to continue on the journey towards yummy healthy food and get a clear idea of one excellent strategy for getting the food you want at the prices and quality you need. If anyone asks, be sure to tell them Brian Greco at Brian on Health sent you! I’m telling you, I should be a spokesperson for the produce industry! Enjoy.
Question of the day: What’s your favorite fruit? Do you buy in bulk? Do you know your local produce vendors?