Produce has been increasing in price quite steadily lately, as I'm sure all of you have noticed. No doubt this is due to increased operating costs to growers from whatever cause (labor, fuel, etc). On top of that, you add the costs for every company that touches that fruit or vegetable before you purchase it. The increase in cost is understandable, given the present state of the U.S. Dollar.
What isn't understandable to me is the apparent decline in quality of the fresh produce I'm seeing. It used to be that the grocery store I frequent had some of the best produce around. Very fresh, clean, available pre-ripened. But I've noticed that over the last three or four months, the quality of what I've been buying has gone to crap.
We don't buy anything fancy. We like Braeburn/Fuji/Golden Delicious apples, pears, bell peppers, bananas, strawberries, grapes, sweet yellow onions, red onions, zucchini, corn-on-the-cob, avocados, etc. I've noticed several things about these:
1) The fruit is generally smaller, less juicy, and less sweet. Citrus has much thicker rinds and is way pulpier. Grapes are small and often on the sour side.
2) Potatoes are unusually full of eyes, and are often found sprouting in the bag within three or four days of buying them (used to have to neglect a bag for weeks to find sprouts)
3) Onions are smaller and have gone to seed and are starting to produce their shoots (i.e. the middles are green, leafy, and hard).
4) Bananas go bad MUCH faster. It used to take about a week. Lately, if I buy a bunch of more than a half dozen (which takes us about four days to go through) I end up throwing out the last two.
5) Bell peppers are REALLY bitter. Reds are better, but no where near as flavorful as they used to be.
I'm finding this sort of thing not just at the store I normally go to, but at other supermarkets and at TJ's as well.
Is anyone else having any issues with produce?