It Doesn’t Hurt to Ask…

The Produce ManWhen I stopped at the Produce Man’s stand in town on Tuesday, the lady was putting my tomatoes in a bag and found one that had a blemish on it. She put it in a box under the table and had me pick out another one. Hmmmmmmm. I got to thinking about that and wondered what they did with them when the day was over. When I took the afternoon mail, I swung by. “What do you do with the tomatoes that aren’t nice enough to sell?” I asked the lady. She said the Produce Man takes them home and dumps them. “Can I buy them?” “I don’t know. You’ll have to talk to him.”

He was sitting in a lawn chair in the shade of an abandoned fast food restaurant. I went over and repeated my request. “Awww! You wouldn’t want them!” I said there was one this morning that was mostly sound that I could use. He said, “We put those back and what you won’t buy, someone else will.” That kind of took me aback but I wasn’t going to rat the woman out.

I asked if I could look at what he had. He led me over to the truck and there was a box half full of tomatoes in all stages of damage. He said, “You can have ’em if you want ’em.” I was willing to pay him a dollar for them but he protested and said to take them on for nothing. Along with the tomatoes, there were a couple of oranges, a corn shuck or two and some banana peels.

He wouldn’t put them on the seat of my car because some of the tomatoes were “leaking”. He insisted on putting them in the trunk. That’s where they rode home.

The oranges had nothing whatsoever wrong with them.

Salvaged Oranges

(These are at home and in a box with my juice oranges.)

The woman has told me she likes junk food and he has said he can’t eat grapefruit because he’s on cholesterol medicine. Maybe he can’t eat oranges, either.

I threw the banana peels and corn shucks in the compost bin and went through the tomatoes before I went inside. I ended up with two spinach containers more than full of tomatoes I could salvage.

Salvaged Tomatoes

There was no way I was going to scald the tomatoes to peel them and I wasn’t going to try washing them. I peeled all of them with either a vegetable peeler or a knife. Then I sliced them into a three quart mixing bowl.

Peeled and Sliced Salvaged Tomatoes

On the way down the container, I found the tomato that the lady had rejected and took its picture. It was pretty consistent with the rest of the ones I was able to use.

THE Tomato That Started It All

There was a pepper in the bunch, as well, that was beyond using but it gave me the idea of making salsa to take to work. I’d stopped and bought a jalapeno and some cilantro for just that purpose. I got out my handy dandy Pampered Chef chopper and did in half the tomatoes along with the green one for the salsa. I used it to chop the onion and jalapeno, too. I had to use some red sweet pepper out of the freezer since I didn’t buy one. When I got it mixed up and jarred, I had enough for anyone who wanted to try it. I went by this recipe for the most part.


The rest of the tomatoes I used for my tomato/mango soup.

Tomatoes aren’t cheap this time of year. They are the primary ingredient in both salsa and my soup. My boldness to ask for the tomatoes paid off. Confession: I had told the man I planned to dehydrate them but they ended up being so juicy I didn’t. When and if I have the opportunity, I’ll have to tell him I lied.

4 Responses to It Doesn’t Hurt to Ask…

  1. mommygoingraw May 8, 2009 at 10:54 am #

    Good advice- thanks for the tip. It makes me think of all the blemished produce for which I paid full price.

    • Tommie May 8, 2009 at 7:36 pm #

      Amazing, isn’t it? I got twice as many tomatoes today. A lot of waste but about six quarts of slices. I’m almost through with my over two quarts of tomato mango soup and I’m going to make salsa and share with my neighbors.

  2. Giavanna November 20, 2009 at 6:35 pm #

    Its amazing to me how spoiled we are in this country that they would throw away perfectly good produce just because it has only little blemish on it.
    I’m glad you were able to get some free vegies though! That salsa looks amazing!!!

    • Tommie November 20, 2009 at 6:39 pm #

      Isn’t it the truth—and the salsa was delicious!

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