Why I buy the blemished, or over-ripe peaches and tomatoes

The juice of a ripe tomato dripped down my chin. I bit harder and the seeds spurted out. The tart richness of a ripe tomato hit my palate. Of temperate region fruits, tomatoes and peaches top my list of fruits that must be obtained ripe. They soften easily, so shipped fruits are pallid blocks of wood, sharing nothing with their more fortunate, ripe brethren.

But why must I buy them when they are over-ripe or blemished? Here are my reasons.

Reason 1. One of the big reasons that farmers are reluctant to grow organically is that people don’t like to buy blemished or wormy fruit or vegetables. The American consumer has been demonstrated to prefer unblemished fruit, even if it tastes worse. I don’t want this to be the experience of all farmers, so I buy their blemished fruit. Then they can see there is a market for it even when the fruit I buy is not organic. Maybe this will make them more likely to turn organic.

Reason 2. Maybe the blemished fruit got skipped by the sprayer, and so is actually better for you than the unblemished fruit.

Reason 3. If I buy the fruit when it is ripe to over-ripe, I can eat it right away and I can be that impatient.

Reason 4. The over-ripe fruit may have been picked when it was riper, along with some less ripe fruits, so it will taste better.

Reason 5. Ok, true, it is usually much cheaper. Today I got a peck of peaches for $6. They were fine, as you can see from these photos. We had a few mushy spots, a few maggots, a few brown spots, but feasted on them for lunch and have plenty left.

These delicious peaches were from Calhoun County, Illinois, between the Mississippi and Illinois rivers, and were sold to us by a nice deaf woman at a roadside stand. We had just visited the confluence of the Mississippi and Missouri rivers, seen flocks of cowbirds, pectoral sandpipers, rough-winged swallows, and a second-year bald eagle. But the birds are the subject for another blog under http://slowbirding.wordpress.com/.

I hope you can find some over-ripe fruit to make into sauces, chutneys, and cobblers after you’ve eaten your fill of ripe ones!


This is $6 of ripe peaches after the soft or wormy spots were removed.


This one had a maggot.


This one simply has that blemish.


About Joan E. Strassmann

Evolutionary biologist, studies social behavior in insects & microbes, interested in education, travel, birds, tropics, nature, food; biology professor at Washington University in St. Louis
This entry was posted in Birds, Environment, Natural areas and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Why I buy the blemished, or over-ripe peaches and tomatoes

  1. Kathryn Marsh says:

    Ate squashy peaches from roadside stalls all the way along a circular route from Washington to Tulsa and back last August/September. So much better than the wooden kind and such a treat for a visitor from Ireland where out of door peaches simply won’t grow

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