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April 15, 2013 | by  | in Opinion |
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Beginner’s Guide to Wellington’s Fruit and Vege Markets

If this is your first year living in a flat, you will have found yourself between the rock and hard place of New World Metro’s outrageous fruit and vege prices, and running the risk of developing scurvy. If things are looking a little scurvalicious down your end of town, it’s high time you took yourself along to one of Wellington’s fruit and vege markets.

But before you get on your high horse and start telling anyone who’ll listen that you’re buying your fresh produce straight from the hands of the people who farmed it, be warned: up to 85 per cent of this produce is purchased wholesale from a warehouse near Tawa and stored until the weekend rolls around. The produce sold at these markets is usually of a slightly lower quality than what you would find in a supermarket, but that doesn’t mean that there’s anything wrong with it—you just have to school yourself.

Go early: Don’t put yourself through the experience of rifling through a crate full of squashed plums that everyone else has already spent the morning squeezing. Go early! You get the best choice of greens, and there are fewer people around to accidentally ram their wheelie bags into your ankles. If you’re really savvy, you can even coincide going to the markets with your trip home from a big night on Courtenay Pl—the Victoria St market opens at 4 am!

Shop around: While the lower prices are almost guaranteed to save you a whole lot on your fruit and veges, if you want the best deal, have a look around the whole market before making any rash decisions. One stall might be an absolute steal for onions, but their broccoli prices could be an absolute rort.

Know how to pick ‘em: Don’t be the fool who compares apples with oranges—learn how to know what to look for. A flatmate of mine once described market-goers performing a series of strange rituals such as tapping, rolling, or holding the fruit to their ear to pick what they wanted.

While there are some more mystical, advanced techniques, the basics are simple: pick fruit and vegetables which are the colour they’re meant to be (e.g. without yellowing and deeply coloured), and avoid soft spots, bruising, and wilted leaves. A good rule of thumb is: if it looks a bit sad, it should be avoided.

Finally, when buying items that go off quickly, pick a range at varying stages of ripeness so that your produce will ripen, ready for eating, throughout the week.


Get Fruity:

Saturday – Newtown Fruit and Vegetable Market: Newtown School, Corner Mein and Riddiford Streets, 7.30 am – 2 pm.

Sunday – Victoria Street Farmers’ Market: Corner Willis, Victoria and Vivian Streets, 4 am – 2.30 pm.

Harbourside Market: Corner Barnett and Cable Streets, near Waitangi Park, 7 am – 1 pm.

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