11 Grocery Stores With the Freshest Produce
While juggling all of life's responsibilities, it's not always easy to fit in a grocery run. And when you manage to get to the store to bring home enough nutritious whole foods for the week, you want the best.
What does good produce look like? Well, you want your fruits and vegetables at peak ripeness—not plucked too early, nor left for too long—in order to get the most flavor and avoid it going bad on you. The signs of readiness vary from item to item. Depending on how the produce is stored, you may find that your avocados have turned into tasteless rocks or that your potatoes don't last more than a couple of weeks without sprouting.
It's also about the selection. The best supermarkets carry both staples, like apples and bananas, and some unique seasonal items—if you haven't heard, Sumo oranges are back—to bring some excitement into your shopping routine.
We know that your grocery trip needs to count, so we're highlighting these 11 grocers that never fail to deliver the goods when it comes to delicious, high-quality fruits and vegetables. At these stores, the top-notch selection may cost more, but this is an instance of getting what you pay for.
Whole Foods is known nationwide for its first-rate selection of vibrant fruits and vegetables. As the first certified organic grocery store, it's been a pioneer for high quality, natural, healthy foods since 1980. Organic foods are guaranteed to be completely free of contamination with conventional items, since the retailer's handling practices are third-party inspected every year, according to Whole Food's website. The chain also carries specialty goods, like Cotton Candy and Moon Drop grapes, and locally grown, in-season items. For fresh-tasting produce that gives back to the community, shopping here is a no-brainer.
Sprouts Farmers Market
With a mission to bring natural, healthy foods to millions, the farmers market-themed chain is naturally home to some of the best produce around. Sprouts' teams of buyers and quality control inspectors vet all the fruits and vegetables that come into its warehouses, according to the retailer. It also offers farm-fresh local items throughout the year and sells "rescued organics," like misshapen strawberries or bumpy squashes, to offer lower-priced options and cut down on food waste.
Southern shoppers can count on this popular Texas supermarket to have seasonal produce with a "fresh-from-the-farm glow," according to its website. The H-E-B-owned upscale grocer carries tons of local and imported fruits and vegetables, like Ataulfo mangoes and Blue Oyster mushrooms. It even ranked highest on a 2019 Consumer Reports survey because of its excellent produce variety and quality, as well as "selection of healthy options, selection of locally produced products, and variety of international products or multicultural foods," so you know it's good.
Where can you find a complete produce section full of organic-only foods? This Colorado-based health-forward retailer would be the first to raise its hand. According to its website, it's "the only large grocery store chain to offer 100% organic produce." Its high standards aim to help customers locate nutritious foods, avoid contamination with pesticides and GMOs, and support sustainable growing.
Take it from one of the top three grocers named by Consumer Reports for best produce variety and quality—Heinen's knows produce. Cultivating relationships with local growers has been this family-owned chain's secret to success, selling 400 types of fruits and vegetables, and nearly a third of it is USDA-certified organic. Find all your go-to's stocked fresh, and don't forget to check out the store's Fresh Discovery section for unique produce that's sure to pique your interest. This month: Pixie Tangerines.
The East Coast supermarket chain has made a name for itself in the produce section. Widely considered one of the best places to get fruits and vegetables if you're willing to splurge, Wegmans is able to provide the freshest foods because of how quickly it can sell its supply, with a refresh rate five times higher than most competitors, according to Mashed. Produce from its own farms and local growing partners also has to meet quality requirements, as part of the company's "strong produce safety" culture, The Packer reported.
Texans know that there are plenty of reasons to be obsessed with H-E-B, and its superior produce aisles are one of them. Customers rave about how fresh and flavorful the selection is compared to superstores like Walmart. "The produce and pepper selection is so much fresher. The avocados are always singing to me…The H-E-B always has [organic] bananas," one fan commented in Reddit. It probably has something to do with the shorter route from farm to table, since much of its produce is made in Texas.
The one-stop-shop that Midwesterners love also makes eating healthy, nutritious foods easy. Produce selection is curated by experienced buyers, sourced from local sellers, and optimized for freshness. And since "good" doesn't have a one-size-fits-all definition, Hy-Vee takes care to learn its consumers' expectations by region. "While it might be OK to sell frozen okra in Iowa, okra is a staple in the Southeast. We'll be conducting focus groups and other research to make sure we are offering what people want," Hy-Vee's Jeff Mallory, vice president of produce, told The Packer.
This wildlife-themed retailer is on another level when it comes to grocery stores. With just two Ohio-based locations, Jungle Jim's makes a big impression on anyone who visits—especially when it comes to produce. The massive department includes 800 different kinds of produce and almost 100 varieties of organic produce, according to its website. The main appeal: international finds like lychee, jackfruit, papaya, kumquats—the list goes on. If you're looking for some very niche fruits and vegetables, you'll want to take the road trip to the Cincinnati area and fulfill your wildest produce shopping dreams.
The Fresh Market
It's only fitting for the customer-voted "Best Supermarket in America" winner in 2021 and 2022 to have standout produce on its list of accolades. Shop far and wide at one of its 160 European open-air market-themed stores to pick up specialty items, like jumbo blueberries and heirloom tomatoes, along with your everyday local foods.
Fresh Thyme Market
This health food store opened its first doors in 2014, making it a relative newcomer to the grocery game. The Meijer-backed chain gets most of its fruits and vegetables within the Midwestern region. "Fresh fruit and vegetables grown near our stores spend less time in transit and less time in storage, compared to food grown and shipped from far away," according to its website. "When produce arrives at a Fresh Thyme store, it's so fresh it's at the peak of ripeness, which means it's bursting with nutrition as well as flavor."