The Taste Of Grocery Store Vegetables | Great, Good, Blah, or Bad?

How bad do grocery store vegetables taste

Every year when our garden begins to produce, I am struck by how much BETTER vegetables taste compared to the grocery store!!

Sound familiar?

Our Bell pepper plants are beginning to prolifically produce wonderful looking peppers. We picked a few to add to our dinner salad the other day. When I bit into that fresh bell pepper, it was like a sensory overload of DELICIOUS BURSTING FLAVOR!

You might say, OMG. How is it that grocery store vegetables taste so bland compared to this?!

Our tomatoes aren’t quite ready yet. But I can guarantee the same reaction when I first get to bite into one of those yummy, juicy red orbs. I can hardly wait!

I don’t know about you, but this past year at our grocery store, the tomatoes taste so incredibly bland – I can hardly taste that they are actually tomatoes! And the prices! Crazy…

It’s all the more reason to grow your own garden! Treat yourself to real, tasty, vegetables!

We ‘home can’ the excess (tomato sauce). We also dehydrate other veggies.

Why Do Grocery Store Vegetables Taste Bad?

First, it’s not all bad. But I’m pretty sure you know what I mean. Many of the vegetables in grocery stores just don’t taste very delish.

Unless you’re fortunate to have a specialty grocery store near you, one that excels at fresh vegetables, you’re probably disappointed.

I believe the number one reason why so many grocery store vegetables taste bad (or simply “not so good”) is because they are sourced from far away.

Far Away Source | Picked Early | Travel Time

Obviously and especially during “off season”, vegetables come from very far away. They are picked BEFORE they are ripe, before they have had a chance to develop a full flavor. Vegetables are transported long distances to arrive at your grocery store and are just beginning to appear ripe and ready as they hit the shelves.

This results in a “not so good” comparative flavor experience to those which you garden yourself.

Even during “on season”, most major grocery store chains continue their existing supply chain (from far away). Not many chain grocers will include locally grown “in season” veggies on their shelves, given their contractual relations with distributors, etc.

Modified Vegetable Varieties For Grocery Stores

It’s all about the Benjamins. The money. It is well known that the vegetables MUST LOOK GOOD at the grocery store. Shoppers won’t buy vegetables that don’t look so good. So how does the grocer industry deal with this?

It gets back to the growers. They modify / choose vegetable varieties that survive better and longer during the journey to the shelves. Varieties are also chosen which LOOK BETTER when they get there.

They are NOT concerned about taste. They know you don’t have much of a choice in that department… At least that’s how I see it.


Why do fresh garden vegetables taste SO MUCH BETTER than from the grocery store?


  1. Lots of the produce in stores, especially large chain stores, is picked before ripe or treated with anti bacterial washes to keep them from rotting in transit to the store.

    Then there is the whole nutrient equation, generally hydroponics, and synthetic fertilizer will have a different taste than organic, and again not all organic is the same, same with soils, different soils will give a different taste to certain produce, like onions, a yellow granex onion grown in texas vs the same onion grown on Maui, the Maui onion will hands down be sweeter, usually smaller but definitely sweeter, purely because of the mineral content in the soil. The differences are generally subtle but to the discerning pallate noticeable.

    Typically a home grower will pay closer attention to their crops, give more compost or better fertilizers, pay better attention to PH etc, so of course the taste is a much fuller and true taste. Not always, but usually.

    Tricky stuff growing vegetables and fruits.

    1. Exactly, Kula!
      A perfect example of this regional phenomenon is the well-known Vidalia onion.

      I’m trying to think back in all of my gardening years — did I ever eat a ‘bland’ homegrown veggie????

      One of the absolute best treats about having a garden is eating something you have grown within the first minute of its harvest. It’s almost sacred….

      1. Exactly. I’ve been buying a box of tomatoes from Menamish (mennonites or amish??) for a while and they last me two weeks.
        I ate the first home grown last night and it was delicious…and I have a fungus I spray for every Monday.

        1. we went to Amish land down in Ethridge, TN yesterday and bought some sweet corn.

          I usually grow my own… but due to spine surgery this past spring I was not able to have my own corn patch :(

          Their produce is always good !!

  2. I’ve not had any luck growing cabbage from seed, but this year I bought some plants already started. Just harvested a 5 lb cabbage yesterday. It is SOO much better than store bought — fresh, tightly packed, flavorful. I have had boiled cabbage twice and coleslaw so far, and have most of that big cabbage left for the rest of the week.

    1. Hi DaisyK

      I like to slice cabbage fairly thin and sauté it in bacon fat with a little onion thrown in. Al dente perfect with sausages.

      With family at cabin this coming weekend. That will be one of our dinners.

      1. Anony Mee,
        Oh man! Love fresh cabbage fried like that. And summer fruit from the East (Was) is the BEST.
        I am a terrible gardener, but why I manage to grow tastes way better than store bought.
        PEACE to all

  3. Agriculture is one of the 4 As that power Washington’s economy. Lots of local farmers as well as fresh stands, organic markets, weekly farmers markets, roadside stands. To compete local grocery stores like Safeway offer seasonal local produce. Love it when local berries, corn, and greens hit the shelves. Eastern WA fruit floods stores here in season. Yum!

    BTW the other three are aircraft (Boeing and feeder companies), aliens (tourism), and applications (Microsoft and offshoots).

  4. I have been finding the store bought veg degrading in quality over the years(decades). It has been getting worse and worse. I only buy minimal and try to buy local Farm produce in season. I never buy product that is out of season say purchasing apples in May. They are either shipped in from South America or they were last years harvest stored in Argon rooms. Either way the quality is poor and substandard.

    Now the Benefit in South FL is come February Fresh Field strawberries start ripening That is the best. Picked ripe not green. I grow some but not enough to meet demand of the family. HAve to go to the local farm to get more.

  5. Gave some over run of yellow squash to some ladies at a flower shop, next time they wanted to buy all I had because it tasted so much better than store bought. To me squash is was squash, butter, salt, pepper and a bit of bacon grease. They insisted not so. I went to the grocery store they bought at and purchased the same squash I was growing, went home and picked the same size squash from the garden, ate both right in the garden. They were right, mine was much more flavorful. The difference seemed to be my fertilizer was all manure based from my own pastured animals, mostly mules and it was fresh picked( the squash was). So I did taste comparisons on tomato, green beans and cabbage, all of mine had better flavor. I was biased so gave some to the ladies and end up selling all my extra to them. Younger fella I gave okra to wanted to know what breed of okra I had because mine tasted better than his. My okra is a cross between two types that liked my soil. Told him to use manure tea once a week and showed him how to make it with his own cow manure. His okra turned out every bit as tasty as mine. I am a solid believer in manuring the soil. You do not ague with women who are holding sissor’s.

  6. I have a little experience with this, everyone is right about picking before ripe. However i think the biggest factor is the variety. An heirloom tomato, for example is too soft to ship across country. It would arrive as mush. Its about looks and ship ability. The average food bought in a grocery store has traveled 1500 miles. It takes a special kind of produce to handle that. I have Granny Smith apples planted next to other kinds of apple trees that are cross pollinators, different taste that store bought for both kinds.

    1. During my previous travels, I’ve seen big open-bed trucks filled heaping with tomatoes (mostly green or slight red) moving on down the road. The first thing I think about is how in the heck are the tomatoes on the bottom half of that stack not getting mushed?

      Answer: The varieties are thick skinned heavy duty to enable that transportation! Yuk.

      1. on a similar note we had an apple over here called “beauty of bath” it was a first early apple up to 6 weeks earlier than other apples it has disappeared ! it was very thin skinned and very soft and juicy also on the small size so wouldn’t ship well . commercial growers and regulations made this sweet beautiful tasting apple a thing of the past .

        1. bill posters
          Have you looked for it in someone’s yard growing where you could cut for a graft on to one your trees. Better yet seeds that you could grow your own tree for this apple?

        2. BillP
          Theres a website over there called Cottagesmallholder, are in UK, i bet someone on there would know where you could get a grafted tree from

        3. BillPosters,
          I found your apple trees in the UK
          Orange Pippin Fruit trees
          They have many different sizes it looks like.
          Are like the strawberry variety i planted, not good for commercial picking but excellent for a homestead

        4. Bill,
          That’s a great example of what’s going on! I’m hoping my apple trees start producing next year,

      2. Ken…Personally I find grocery store produce mostly has little taste.

        You mention that the tomatoes (these days) are thick skinned, probably to prevent crushing. I think it goes even further. Although tasteless, I do purchase grocery tomatoes from time to time. Almost always (in addition to the thick skin you mention), they have a “plug” where the stem was, which I swear has a very woody texture. So much so that if I miss cutting it out, and toss in a salad, all eating it will ask what is this bit of wood from?

        very dodgy. Suspect it is likely some GMO offshoot (even though they will insist tomotoes are not GMO)

        1. Jane,
          The cheapest tomatoes at our grocery store are $1.99/lb and the most expensive are $3.99/lb. All of them are a rip off at that price versus their taste. I can hardly wait till my garden tomatoes are ready for harvest!

        2. Ken,
          yes, I’ve seen similar prices. And then there are the supposed organic ones, even more. Funny thing is, they all (organic, cheap/pricey etc) seem to have that woody bit where the stem grew. I don’t mean that circle the stem grew from. I mean down in to the tomato a bit. My luck with gardening has been slim to none, so I rely on finding a good grower at a farmer’s market , and in a pinch do buy the grocery store ones. But, pretty much tasteless.

  7. Absolutely right about the “non-taste”of grocery store veggies.The veggies do look great in the store but that is where it all ends.There is also the concern for us about all the chemicals that are used on store veggies.

    We just ate our first cucumber of the season, a lemon cuke, delicious , fresh beets with great flavor and fresh green beans and potatoes.

    We are fortunate that we have a pretty good grocery store that does deal in local produce and fruit when we need it .

    Until we moved to eastern Washington we did not realize how many chemicals are used in food production, ugh.

  8. When I lived in Alaska they were picked so early that by the time they hit our stores and looked pretty good, they were rotten on the inside.
    No one pays attention to fruit and veggies the way home gardeners do. We put lots of love into our gardens. There is nothing like the sight of our first tomato of the year or melon or fruit on a tree. And when some vermin starts to destroy that piece of produce we smash the life out of it with great pleasure! Now that is love!

  9. Over the past 12 years, I can count on one hand the times I have had a store bought tomato (not grape tomatoes) that was sweet. I live in an apartment and cannot grow my own. I thought I’d try heirloom tomatoes, but those are a rare find at the grocery store, and farm stands are not within my area. Anyone have any suggestions as to a grocery chain in the northern nj area that might sell tomatoes worth eating?

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