Best Fresh Produce - 2002
Whole Foods Market
When first confronted by the produce section in a Whole Foods Market, your immediate reaction might be a double take to see if you've accidentally wandered into an art gallery by mistake -- the food is that beautiful, and beautifully arranged as well: walls of glistening greens, row upon row of perfect fruits. Once you've gotten your bearings, however, you'll realize you're in produce paradise. Much of what you'll find is the usual supermarket fare, although invariably fresher and much more carefully displayed. (Some of the arrangements are so artful that you have to pick gingerly to make sure they don't come toppling down on you.) It's the variety that overwhelms. There are red potatoes and white potatoes, but there are also sweet potatoes and yams -- there's a difference, you know -- as well as tiny fingerling potatoes and purple potatoes. Other exotica include black radishes, yellow tomatoes, white asparagus, and two kinds of kale. Then there's the fruit section, which, depending upon the season, can feature cactus pears, purple-streaked pepino melons, wrinkly passion fruit, huge fuyu persimmons, a horned melon called kiwano, the appropriately named ugli fruit, and the truly bizarre tropical delicacy monstera deliciosa, which comes with detailed instructions on how to ripen and eat. And if the array of fresh mushrooms and the dozen or so fresh herbs don't impress you, maybe the edible flowers, including orchids and pansies, will -- or should.