Produce Heaven

Now that my boyfriend lives in the apartment upstairs from me, in the same building, I get to borrow his car. (He even gave me my own set of keys, with a little Swiss army knife attached to the keychain.) This means that I get to shop at Russo’s.

Russo’s is the best place to buy fruits and vegetables in the Greater Boston area. It’s in Watertown, about a 20-minute drive from my place, and it’s not accessible by public transportation, and not realistically bikeable (not unless you’re Jonathan Edelson, but that’s another story).

I don’t know if the quality of produce in grocery stores has actually (as it seems to me) been getting worse, or if I’m just getting picker, as I get old and crotchety. A couple weeks ago, I went to Whole Foods, which is usually much better than Shaw’s (part of the Albertson’s chain); the fruit was fine, but the only vegetable I could find that didn’t look wilted and disgusting was cabbage (okay, the corn was fine too, but I was looking for a vegetable I didn’t need to cook the same day I bought it). In July! Are you kidding me, Whole Foods?

Ah, Russo’s! An entire large bin of crisp, crunchy snow peas (instead of a small bin of wilted, droopy, brown-edged snow peas like at Whole Foods). Green beans so fresh that you could just take a handful out of the bin and end up with mostly good ones, instead of having to pick through and choose one bean at a time. Russo’s has vegetables I’ve never even heard of, and they consistently have any vegetable or fruit I might want, and decent quality, too. Last Saturday, they had fresh sour cherries. And quail eggs. I didn’t happen to want either fresh sour cherries or quail eggs, but it’s nice to know that I have the option.

There are a few downsides. Although they have an excellent deli (way better provisioned than the one at the Fresh Pond Whole Foods), their fresh meat department is tiny. No fish. And, while they have a lot of dry goods, canned food and condiments, they’re all on shelves below eye level (under the produce bins), so they’re really hard to find. And the store is always crowded, even before 9 am on a Saturday.

But if you like fresh fruit and vegetables, Russo’s is the place. They also have an extensive cheese department, a good selection of bakery items from local artisanal bakeries, a patisserie, and lots of fresh flowers. Plus a decent selection of dairy, prepared foods like hummus and olives … I could go on and on.

I don’t like the idea of having to go to multiple grocery stores each week. But, since most of what I buy each week IS fresh fruit and vegetables, and since there’s a Shaw’s supermarket right on the way home from Russo’s where I can get all the dry goods I lost patience trying to find at Russo’s … well, it’s kind of worth it.

Donald’s just glad not to be dragged along to the grocery store with me anymore.

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3 Responses to Produce Heaven

  1. Kira says:

    This is where I go here in Atlanta and it’s amazing:

    It’s also a bit crowded and it can be a little hard to find things until you get used to it, but they actually have giant pictures of the produce over each bin, plus a note saying where it came from so you can choose local. The prices on almost everything are way cheaper than the supermarkets and the quality is great…cheese is generally 2-3 dollars cheaper than at our local grocery chain, Publix.

    I wish there were more places like these!

  2. Jessica says:

    I’ve found quality going downhill everywhere. You definitely need to go to multiple stores to get everything you’re looking for. I get most of my produce, meat, and milk at the farmer’s market. I get staples (cereal, toothpaste, etc.) at a chain store (usually Kroger), I get bulk items (flour, nuts, etc.) and a few other things at a local natural food store, and I get a bunch of things at one or two of the International markets. Grocery shopping takes forever.

  3. Kristin says:

    The DeKalb Market sounds really awesome, Kira! Russo’s is also significantly cheaper than the local supermarket, especially on produce. Now that I have the opportunity to shop there, it’s hard to stomach paying higher prices for lower quality at other stores.

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