For many of us, shopping at Fred Meyer’s (or insert your favorite big box store) is a more convenient, time saving option for shopping than going to a farmers markets or local fruit stands. We lead busy lives and time is important, not to mention convenience to home, and variety of items for sale. Yes, it’s true. I, Banana Nick, do indeed shop for other things besides fruit and vegetables (bulk items, CHOCOLATE, toilet paper, kid stuff, underwear), and Freddy’s has all that, plus it’s much closer to home and open until 11pm (you never know when you need some late night Samuel Smiths Oatmeal Stout) . But, for fruits and vegetables, you could do worse than Fred Meyer’s, so lets break it down….
Salad: Let’s begin with green leaf options. We buy the large plastic buckets of pre-washed salad ($5 for bucket of mixed greens, or $5 for bucket of spinach) for convenience sakes, but if you are into washing the greens yourself, there are Romaine heads, iceberg heads (gah!), loose spinach, and chards of various types, both non-organic and organic. We have been happy with the plastic buckets of salad greens (the price is right), but they sometimes get squishy quickly, so check the date on the container. If fresh, the container will last nearly 1 week in our fridge. Of course, there are multitudes of bags of salads, but these are both small and expensive, so we go with the bucket based on our salad loving diets. I have never seen kale at Fred’s, so that is something you will need to pick up at another market, but there are red/white cabbage varieties, and parsley and such in organic and non.
Vegetables: Most veggies are represented at Fred’s in varying quality, it really depends on seasons. There is a large organic aisle, depending on your budget though, this might not be an option. Prices are sometimes double. My theory is that its better to eat well and to take the small risk of DEATH BY PESTICIDE than to talk yourself out of it because of the organic vs non-organic debate, so try it for yourself. We have stopped buying the non-organic carrots and celery due to their flavorless-ness compared to organic. Bell peppers are usually $1 each (green, red, orange) and cucumbers are often local (also $1 each). They have a plastic wrapped cucumber that we have not bought, because it is more expensive. Not sure where they are from. We have to wash the cucumbers very well, since there is obvious residue on the outside of those. Might be better to go Organic with the cukes. The mushroom selection is ok, not nearly as good as produce markets, but there is a small variety of different mushrooms, also in the packages and pre-cut for convenience. We have not had any problems with the mushrooms, just need to wash them good. Cauliflower, broccoli, and cilantro are all available and we have had no problems, broccoli is sometimes “cardboard-y”. Again, they are offered in the organic section too. Cherry tomatoes and large Roma tomatoes are available. We like to use the cherry ones, less chopping!
Fruits: Fred Meyer’s is a good place for fruit, they are reasonably priced and a Fred Meyer card is not needed to be able to get the good deals (unlike Safeway….thanks brother Bob, for the use of your phone number!). 69 cents a pound for naval (because the navy loves them? or because they look like an outtie?) oranges is a good deal, and bananas are always cheap (around 59 cents a pound for non-organic, 89 cents for organic). Sometimes they have the older bananas that they wrap in red tape, those are 20 cents a pound and are great for cutting up and freezing for smoothies. They usually put them right near the bananas or underneath, you might have to look around. Fred’s stocks a wide variety of apples, but the prices are very high for the non-Braeburn or Fuji’s…like $1.99 a pound! That’s crazy. There is usually one variety (inevitably Braeburn) on sale for 99 cents a pound. In August they have cheap watermelon from Hermiston, but all other times of the year, they are expensive. Come August, the watermelon gorging begins! Cantaloupe and melon are reasonably priced and available all year around. For out of season berries (blueberries, blackberries), the cost is high, sometimes $4 for a small container of strawberries. But for in season berries, they can be $1.50 – $2 a container. There is usually a very small section of pears. Being from Oregon, I am not sure why they don’t stock more pears, but so it is. Prices are around $1 to $1.50 a pound for pears. Kiwi fruit, mangos, and pineapple are available at normal prices.
Other items: Fred’s has a nice bulk section, which we use, to buy almonds and walnuts. It is amazing how much more pricier they are packaged, and most likely they are loaded with salt that way, so bulk is the way to go. Fred’s has a separate “Natural Selection” section for organic bread items, soy milk, natural yoghurt, and vitamins. All grocery stores do this, why?? Seems like it would be better for people to see how many options there are amongst the normal stuff, but maybe they are worried that these items would get lost in the shuffle? Seems like lost sales to me. Silly-ness that I guarantee will be in the distant past soon enough. It is annoying because there are some organic dressings in the “natural” aisles, but then there are some dressings, just as organic, in the “normal” aisles, so it serves to check both areas. Canned beans are all together, so at least they got that right! We put garbonzo beans on nearly every salad, and we prefer the low sodium beans they sell here. Can’t get those at the produce markets.
Conclusion: For convenience sakes, Fred Meyers is an adequate choice for purchasing fruits and vegetables. Also, for items that cannot be obtained at markets (canned beans, dressings, bulk salad greens, etc.) a store like Fred Meyers is a necessity. But quality and “organic” are not represented as well as they are in Produce Markets, Farmers Markets or places like New Seasons and Whole Foods.
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