When I first moved to New York I had a stigma about buying fruit from the vendors that would begin setting shop when the temperatures hit 60 degrees. For some reason I thought the fruit that came from the stands was more unsanitary and less-fresh than the fruit from the grocery stores, hence the lower prices. Boy, was I wrong! I have come to embrace the fruit stands of New York and find their fruit to actually be fresher, majority of the time, while also providing a wider variety of fruit. Although bananas and apples are sold on nearly every occasion, the selection ventures beyond the staples, adding gooseberries, figs, muscatel grapes, cherries, and papayas during their peak seasons. At Citarella or Food Emporium, they may have these specialty fruits, but be prepared to pay an arm and a leg for them. This won’t be the case at the fruit stands, as they usually feature specials, not-to-mention it is easier to bargain with them than it is to talk down the cashier at Garden of Eden. The fruit is almost always fresh, as they need to get rid of the food by the end of the day/week to assure it doesn’t go bad, therefore they are willing to throw in that extra plum in your bag. Plus, they are super convenient since you don’t need to maneuver your way through the complicated aisles of a grocery store to line up to buy just one apple, as they are usually located just a block or two from your apartment!
I am now the biggest advocate for fruit stands and I now scoff at those who frown upon the stands and label them as selling the ‘reject fruit’, as it is exactly the opposite…and it is always cheaper. At my local fruit lady, you can get a pound of green seedless grapes for only $1.00/lb, whereas at Citeralla I have to be prepared to shell out $2.99/lb. Mangoes are $1.00 each, Freshdirect $1.50 each. Cantaloupe-$2.00 each, Whole Foods- $3.99 each. You get the point, so cut the vendors some slack—it’s actually in your favor.