How To Choose Fresh Produce

At Garden Valley Farmers Market, we offer nothing but the best in our fresh produce grown by local farmers all across North Carolina. We offer produce ranging from freshly picked squash/zucchini to juicy, flavor-filled watermelons. But sometimes, knowing what’s ripe and ready to eat is hard to determine when you’re not use to picking them out.

produce at garden valley farmers market

And sure, we would LOVE nothing more than to help you pick out your produce for your yummy tomato sandwich, or that delicious frittata recipe we blogged about a few weeks ago. But, we also want you to know how to pick out your produce, just in case you’re in an area that does not have a Garden Valley Farmers Market.

tomatoes in a basket
Jenna Marie Visuals

Jenna Marie Visuals

Jenna Marie Visuals

Jenna Marie Visuals

Garden Valley only offers Grade A produce. So, how the grading scale works is this: the higher the grade, the better the quality of produce. The lower the grade, although usually cheaper, is not as good of quality. And we only want the best for our customers, so we only want to serve you Grade A produce. Because we know your families, and we only want them to have the best.

We also only serve seasonal produce!
1. It’s cheaper because it costs less to travel and distribute.
2. Seasonal produce tastes better and has more flavor.
3. Because seasonal means supporting our local farmers, and we’re ALL about that.


So now that we’ve covered what we offer and why, here are a few tips on


using our 10 most popular produce items. As a general rule: if it smells sweet, it’s time to eat.

Jenna Marie Visuals

Jenna Marie Visuals

cherry tomatoes in basket
home grown tomatoes

Tomatoes: LIGHTLY squeeze, and if it feels firm but has a bit of give… it’s RIPE and ready for your delicious sandwich. If it’s hard, but doesn’t have any give… wait a day or two. If it’s mushy and your finger pokes a hole through the skin… please don’t eat it.

strawberries with hanging baskets
Jenna Marie Visuals

Jenna Marie Visuals

blueberries in basket

Berries: You want your berries to be rich in color, and plump in definition. If there are stains in the basket, that means they probably need to be eaten soon.

watermelons sitting in bin

Watermelon: You want to choose a firm and heavy watermelon. Thump the side of it, and if it sounds hollow, then it’s ready for you to cut open and enjoy at your family cookout!

avocado in hand

Avocados: Gently squeeze. If there is yield when gentle pressure is applied, but it’s not mushy, than it’s ready for your guacamole!

apples in basket

Apples: When choosing apples, make sure there are no soft spots, are firm, and have a deep coloring to them. And remember that an apple a day keeps the doctor away.

cantaloupes in bin

Cantaloupe: This is one of those produce items that you can generally judge by smell. If the stem smells sweet then it is ripe to eat. Other signs of a ripe cantaloupe would be a firm exterior with a underlying color of orange and white (green means it could ripen a few more days).

cabbage and corn under a tent
corn husks in box

Corn: Make sure the husks have no holes or browning. Also consider asking the sales associate if you can pull the husk back to inspect the corn.

Jenna Marie Visuals

Jenna Marie Visuals

Cucumbers: If the color of the cucumber is medium to dark green and firm if squeezed, than you are good to take it home, cut it up, and pour vinegar over it for a delicious snack! Make sure there is no yellow or wrinkles in the skin of the cucumber.


Bell Peppers: You want your bell peppers to be heavy, firm, glossy and a taut skin. If there are wrinkles, that probably means that it should be eaten VERY soon, or not at all…

mangos in wooden bin

Mangos: Gently squeeze. If there is a slight give, with soft flesh inside, than it’s ready for that delicious tropical smoothie. Or by itself.

vine ripened tomatoes sign with tomatoes display underneath

We, Garden Valley Farmers Market, only want to serve you the best produce provided by our local farmers. We hope you continue to stop by one of our five locations in North Carolina for your produce, because we’ll be here waiting and ready to help you choose your produce, and so much more!

Your GVFM Team