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Shopping Habits


SobaAddict70
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I needed to pick up some breakfast items early this morning and took a look at a few cartons of eggs. Guess what? Five out of five cartons had cracked or slightly shattered eggs with their contents barely leaking out, before I managed to get an unblemished cartonful.

Do you make it your habit to poke, prod and peek when you foodshop? And I'm not just talking about eggs and vegetables either. For those of you with children, I'm interested in how you teach your kids to have this and other good shopping habits.

What other kinds of habits do you have with regards to food shopping?

Discuss.

Soba

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I definately always check eggs, and I often pick up produce to examine it.

I would never open a sealed package, but anything that is just laying out there or can easily be flipped (like eggs) is open for manipulation. I have also been known to smell meat through the plastic. I thought everyone did this...

He don't mix meat and dairy,

He don't eat humble pie,

So sing a miserere

And hang the bastard high!

- Richard Wilbur and John LaTouche from Candide

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Though I would never open something that was sealed, I inspect almost everything before I buy it. Eggs in Jaapn are usually sold in sealed but clear plastic cartons so there is no use for opening, but I always pick them up and look at the bottom. Most vegetables and fruits are sold already wrapped up so there isn't much to squeeze or inspect but I do smell fruits and peel part of the husk off the corn.

I pick up packs of meat and tilt them to the side to see if any of "juices" are running and then avoid those at are.

I teach my children how to shop by screaming at them at the top of my lungs that they are not to poke their fingers through the plastic and especially not the most expesive items in the store like $15 wedges of watermelon or $50 steaks. They are also not allowed to changes the prices by flipping numbers on those numbers that flip over and over price markers, they are also taught not to erase anything that has been written on a blackboard. And fruits liek grapes sitting in open packages are not there for sampling and then if there are free samples they are not allowed to stand there and proceed to eat all 20 pieces on the plate.

My kids are never going to learn to shop because I never take them anywhere anymore... :biggrin:

Kristin Wagner, aka "torakris"

 

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I always check eggs. I smell and touch my produce, but not squeeze it hard or anything like that - unlike other people I've seen who seem to think that they need to squish it. *Grr* I also completely check over things like bread, baked goods, etc.

I'd never open anything sealed, but I want to make sure that I'm getting quality products.

Misa

Sweet Misa

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i learned from an early age...check everything u can when shopping..meats ..produce..eggs..i was taught by my father how to pick a good melon of any kind without having to cut a hole in one as we sometimes saw other people do..they have certain sounds when u tap them and they have certain smells when they r ready...th eonly thing my father ever tuahgt me to squeeze in the produce section..and a light squeeze at that..was the avacadoes..he said you didnt want to buy one that was too hard nor one that was too soft either...other habits i picked up from my mother....how to tell if packaged meat was good...how to tell if bread was fresh..definitly to make sure u opn up a carton of eggs to look to make sure none are cracked or broken..and though there really seems to be no need for it any longer she taught me how to chose the perfect orange for fresh squeezed orange juice...these days when i want orange juice though...i buy the cartons from the refrigerated section in the store and even with that i look at the expiration dates very carefully since ive had a few unfortunate taste experiences by not checking those sell by dates..... :blink: not the most fun ive ever had but survivable

Edited by ladyyoung98 (log)

a recipe is merely a suggestion

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Always check eggs in their cartons, looking for broken shells, leakage, etc. With produce, always touch the item and feel for soft, bruised parts. If in a clear plastic containers: look at the bottoms for wetness indicating items are bruised or rotten. Fish? by smell whenever possible ... Milk? check dates on expiration for selling.

Still, even with this care and caution, I do wind up with some duds ...

Melissa Goodman aka "Gifted Gourmet"

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I always check eggs. Check expiration dates. Hubby comes from a farming background, so I let him test the fresh produce.

With meat I look for a green tinge - if I find it, back it goes, although I don't buy meat in a supermarket very often.

Marlene

cookskorner

Practice. Do it over. Get it right.

Mostly, I want people to be as happy eating my food as I am cooking it.

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With meat I look for a green tinge - if I find it, back it goes, although I don't buy meat in a supermarket very often.

Reminds me of the clever, yet very true, quote by someone:

red meat isn't bad for you. bluish-green, fuzzy meat is bad for you.
:shock:

Melissa Goodman aka "Gifted Gourmet"

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I teach my children how to shop by screaming at them at the top of my lungs that they are not to poke their fingers through the plastic and especially not the most expesive items in the store like $15 wedges of watermelon or $50 steaks.

My kids are never going to learn to shop because I never take them anywhere anymore... :biggrin:

:laugh: But you have to admit that one of the things that is admirable about the Japanese and the Chinese are the often allowed intense loudnesses of their languages in public.

Here back in America we mothers turn bright purple and have conniptions as we gently oh so calmly (grrrrr...) and most of all quietly! please...try to corral the kids in, in the same ways. Ah, for a good scream!

I personally find that if my children accompany me grocery shopping, the bill increases by 20 percent.

I figure by the time they are in about third grade, they have learned just by watching, how to shop...and then their minds turn to taking advantage of the situation.

I've decided at the age of 14 my daughter will be allowed to do the shopping, with a list written by me, while I read the newspaper in the car. :cool: My son, also...when he gets that old.

Best way to learn is by throwing them the ball, seems to me.

Oh, got off track here. Forgot to mention that not only do I check the stuff I buy, but I check the prices that came up on the receipt. There are often mistakes here due to inaccurate price insertion in the computer systems.... :sad:

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I check everything, not just the eggs. I check the foil lids on yogurt to make sure they aren't punctured, I also look under the plastic lid at the inner seal on things like sour cream, riccotta cheese and cottage cheese, to make sure they haven't been opened. I always check 'best by' dates on milk, eggs, butter, etc. I also closely peruse any produce I buy. My wife hates to shop with me because I take so long!

Bob R in OKC

Home Brewer, Beer & Food Lover!

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Ditto on the eggs, ditto on expiration dates. Mostly I try to buy things that aren't prepackaged. Fruits I check by scent, never squeezing. Produce generally by appearance and trying to shop at places like farmers' markets where it will be really fresh.

"Half of cooking is thinking about cooking." ---Michael Roberts

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You bet. Always check the eggs (because the one time I don't will be the one time I get the carton with the cracked ones), always check produce for condition. The only thing I "squeeze" is melons, and it's not really a squeeze so much as some light pressure at the stem end to see if it gives. (I also have tendonitis in both thumbs, so I couldn't squeeze 'em to damage 'em if I wanted to.)

If the produce is in a clear container, like strawberries, I always turn it over to see if the bottom ones are squished or molding or not ripe. I really don't like buying produce that isn't in a clear container - I don't like buying what I can't see.

I admit I'm not so good about checking dairy dates, but then, dairy gets eaten so fast in this house that it's usually not worth the time. I also stopped checking the dates on bread, since most loaves go straight into the freezer.

When buying cold cuts in the deli, if the stuff they have presliced doesn't look so good to me, I ask them to slice some fresh. I've never been refused yet. Most often the presliced does look good, so I get it,.

And I always, ALWAYS check wrapped cheese for mold. Always. Especially at natural food places like Wild Oats and Whole Foods - they have been the absolute worst for finding moldy cheeses, but I've found them everywhere, and often long before the "sell by" date has passed.

Also check cereal and other boxes for box cutter slices - too often they're not just superficial, but down into the inner wrapper. Check cans for dents, which can be indicators of microscopic seal failures, leading to possible quick spoilage.

In thinking about all of this, I guess it boils down to once bitten, twice shy.

Marcia.

Don't forget what happened to the man who suddenly got everything he wanted...he lived happily ever after. -- Willy Wonka

eGullet foodblog

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this morning at zabar's the cheese guy made me try the manchego before cutting my wedge. ha, of course i didn't mind.

but i am picky about just how ripe a cheese is. i also only scoop the cornichons from the bottom of the barrel. the ones on top aren't as vinegary. this really tends to piss people off that i take the time to choose my cornichons. crazies.

i try to check eggs in the cartons, but i am usually already balancing a basket with one hand and end up spilling the carton of eggs while checking them. this also seemed to piss people off... the new clear cartons have made my life and the lives of my fellow grocery shoppers a lot happier.

"Things go better with cake." -Marcel Desaulniers

timoblog!

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I check my eggs, tap and smell cantelopes, and check for fresh eyes and intact scales in fresh fish. I rarely bother with freshness dates, but I agree that Whole Foods occasionally does a poor job of rotating their product: I've gotten fizzy balls of mozzarella, and rancid prosciutto ends.

I'm a canning clean freak because there's no sorry large enough to cover the, "Oops! I gave you botulism" regrets.

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I check my eggs. For produce I don't squeeze, but I ever so slightly press to see if tomatoes or peaches are hard. The tomatoes also have to smell like a tomato...if it doesn't, it isn't going to taste like a tomato. :hmmm: I smell the cantelopes. If it doesn't smell like cantelope, it isn't ripe. I don't peel the husk back on corn because that makes it dry out and go starchy faster. The best way to tell if its a good ear it to pick it up. The corn will feel heavy for its size. Pick up a few ears...one will feel really heavy. You'll soon catch on to what you're feeling for, and it will become second nature. People look at me like I'm crazy, but I never have corn that's half formed. These city folks just don't know how to pick corn...so there's more good ears for me. That wasn't the case in NC. :raz: I will smell meat. As for seafood, if I can smell the counter before I see it, my boots keep on walking. :blink:

I heard a tip for eggs. Open the lid, place your palm flat on top and rub it around. The eggs should rotate. If an egg doesn't rotate its cracked and it leaked. I have never done this because I can't bring myself to touch the eggs. I don't know...its almost a taboo. Touching produce is socially acceptable, but I don't think touching eggs is.

it just makes me want to sit down and eat a bag of sugar chased down by a bag of flour.

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Touching produce is socially acceptable, but I don't think touching eggs is.

Really? I do turn the eggs around to make sure they aren't broken. Half of the eggs we get around here seem to have poo or feathers stuck to the shell, so they're not exactly hospital clean to begin with. Your mileage may vary.

At the supermarket here (Woolworths) they have bins you can chuck any yucky-looking produce into. Some days I have to restrain myself from putting half their stock into the bin, heh. (I hope they're turning it into compost or something.)

In general, I think a bit of poking is OK, provided that you don't ruin the food for everyone else and that you're not touching/poking stuff that will be eaten without washing, peeling, etc. (it drives me crazy when people put their fingers in the barrels at the "olive bar", for instance).

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One thing I learned way back when in high school cooking class is how to check for an egg's freshness by looking at it's shell... I still do it today with every carton of eggs I buy and it works every time. Fresh eggs are white, white, white with chalky looking, bumpy shells. Older eggs have smoother, shiny shells that are a duller color, occasionally with semi-translucent spots on them.

As for grocery shopping at our house, well, that's a family event. Instead of one of us staying at home with our son while the other goes to the supermarket, we all go... and have fun doing it! We're teaching our 3-year-old how to pick out fresh vegetables, how to sniff a canteloupe for it's sweetness, how to heft a watermelon or a pomelo to find the heavy ones. He thinks it's all fascinating and loves to bag produce and toss unbreakable items into the cart. Of course this will rapidly change once he starts to make demands for junk food... :huh:

Edited to add more eggformation.

Edited by Mooshmouse (log)

Joie Alvaro Kent

"I like rice. Rice is great if you're hungry and want 2,000 of something." ~ Mitch Hedberg

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Boy this is an active bunch. I am imagining everyone on this thread, together in the same grocery store. It would be a bevy of busy-ness, and very exciting.

Most of the people I see in grocery stores sort of wander and throw things with not much interest into their baskets...

My favorite thing is not poking turning or closely examining but moreso patting.

Sometimes this serves a useful purpose, as with melons, but more often is it just a fruitless but pleasant exercise. Nice to give the chicken a couple of pats before you choose it, satisfying to pat a loaf of bread before picking it up.They all make different 'sounds'...very entertaining.

Sort of soul-satisfying in an odd way.

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The tomatoes also have to smell like a tomato...if it doesn't, it isn't going to taste like a tomato.

Amen!! I sniff all of my produce in addition to looking for squishy parts. I once had a fellow shopper at the greenmarket sneer at my tomato sniffing. He said in a disdainful voice "tomatoes have no scent" to which I thrust a tomato under his nose and said "Smell this." Imagine his suprise when he realized that ripe tomatoes give off a pleasant smell. :hmmm:

I admit to opening the corn, but only after I squeeze the tops to feel how developed the corn is. And it's highly unusual that I don't take the cobs once I open them.

Eggs have to be checked because once you bring home a carton of eggs with lots of broken ones you never do it again. :laugh:

And expiration dates are always checked.

"Some people see a sheet of seaweed and want to be wrapped in it. I want to see it around a piece of fish."-- William Grimes

"People are bastard-coated bastards, with bastard filling." - Dr. Cox on Scrubs

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No one explains it better than the food scientist I most trust Shirley Corriher :wink: See why I chose her for sound advice ....

As fruits ripen, they go from hard, sour, inedible, near-invisible parts of the plant to stand-out, brilliant-colored, sweet, juicy objects with enticing aromas. They change in color, size, weight, texture, flavor, and aroma (some even produce ethylene gas); these varied attributes can be good indicators of ripeness.

also, if you scroll down this page, there is a clickable chart by Jeffrey Steingarten on which fruits do and don't ripen ...

Melissa Goodman aka "Gifted Gourmet"

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I check it all. A gentle squeeze, a smell on fruit. If it isn't ripe, or almost ripe, I don't want it.

Interesting that I commented on my blog that the Colorado peaches we've been having have been wonderful, but the Washington one awful. The Colorado's arrive ripe. The Washington's don't.

Fruit becomes a real hit and miss here in the winter. So much of it needs to ripen on the vine or tree.

I don't buy much packaged food, so can't comment on that.

Meat. I buy most of it from a meat market, and ask that it is presented so I can smell it before I buy it. I buy some meat at the supermarket, but I have made a point of meeting the butchers (the head butcher is a woman!), and as I have looked in the case, she has caught my eye occasionally and brought me out sometime special. Just a couple of weeks ago, she caught my eye, and brought out the best of the chuck eye's she'd just espied.

My kids are learning, from me how to really shop.

Susan Fahning aka "snowangel"
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If you suspect that the corn is not fresh, and want to peel a little husk back to check, or peel back a little husk of an ear you selected, by all means go right ahead! The thing I can't stand is what I encountered a few weeks ago...a lady halfway shucking all the ears of corn and throwing them back. I'm not sure what she was looking for.

A thread about a month ago had a lot of people amazed that people touched eggs. I noticed that people up here don't touch the eggs. They should, but they don't. If the eggs were covered in feather or poo, I'd be touching them, too.

it just makes me want to sit down and eat a bag of sugar chased down by a bag of flour.

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I always check eggs, opening the carton and twirling each egg to make sure nothing sticks. I smell and touch produce, look carefully at meats and cheeses, and ask about bread. But I don't destroy anything in packaging...

The only truly questionable thing I do (I think) is taste grapes. My Mom taught me to do that, having bought some as a luxury when she was a young and somewhat strapped housewife... and they were sour, and expensive, and she cried.

-- Judy B

If you reject the food, ignore the customs, fear the religion and avoid the people, you might better stay home.

--James Michener

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I check the eggs (and was surprised once, when at Trader Joe's, the clerk asked me if I'd checked them. I thought everybody did!) :blink: Melons get a thump (watermelon) or a slight pressure on the end and a sniff (cantaloupe). Tomatoes, figs, plums, nectarines, and peaches get gently squeezed. Harder things like bell peppers, apples, and pears get checked for bruises or funny spots. I even make sure the garlic is heavy for its size and not dried out.

I generally don't check the dates on dairy because we go through it too fast.

"I just hate health food"--Julia Child

Jennifer Garner

buttercream pastries

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