8 Best And 5 Worst Grocery Stores To Buy Produce

One of the most taxing parts of being an adult is grocery shopping, or at least it feels like that more often than not. While grocery stores are certainly a lot more varied, and there are options for curbside pickup and delivery these days — that doesn't always make the process less stressful. For instance, there's no guarantee that the person choosing your produce will do a good job at getting you the best when you order curbside pickup. Staying on budget, meal planning, and going to the grocery store (especially the most expensive ones) can take a lot out of you. Add in the fact that even when you do shop in person, sometimes what you want isn't even at the store, or the inventory is less than spectacular, and it can get seriously stressful. 

The fact is that some grocery stores tend to have better options, prices, and inventory than others. And specifically, when it comes to perishable items like produce, you really want to ensure that what you buy is good quality and will last as long as possible once you take it home. After all, there's nothing worse than getting home from the store and seeing that those expensive organic strawberries you bought are already moldy. So, in order to best avoid that in the future, here are the best and worst grocery stores to buy produce.

Best: Central Market

If you live near a Central Market, then you know that the grocery store is practically glorious. While there aren't as many Central Market locations as other grocery stores, the chain is indeed owned by H-E-B, which has stores all throughout the Lone Star State. Central Market is basically a more upscale H-E-B, but the prices aren't as outrageous as infamous stores, like Erewhon – remember that $1000 Erewhon sundae?

Central Market offers more gourmet, hard-to-find, and specialty grocery items than typical grocery stores, and shopping there is always somehow relaxing as the stores are so organized, clean, and easy to roam. Specifically, their produce section is seriously impressive and offers even some exotic fruits and vegetables that you won't find at your neighborhood Walmart. One Twitter user even claimed that Central Market has the "best produce of any grocery store, bar none." That's pretty high praise — but also totally deserving for the store ranked as having some of the best produce out there according to Consumer Reports.

While some stores may sell berries that are already molding, or apples with bruises on them, Central Market has much higher standards and a much wider selection. So, next time you need fresh produce and are near a Central Market, you know where to go.

Worst: Walmart

It's no secret that Walmarts are pretty easy to find, no matter where in the United States you are. For a lot of people, Walmart is the only nearby grocery store, but that doesn't mean it has the best produce. Unfortunately, Walmart's produce is known to be pretty bad, and if you can avoid buying your fresh fruit and vegetables from the chain, then you should try to limit it as much as possible.

According to one Reddit user, Walmarts are known for having "rotting fruit and veggie juices everywhere. The smell, the sights, the shriveled things they try to pass off as food. I wonder how it's even legal to try to sell that." And while some users claimed that it depends on the Walmart, it seems pretty standard to expect Walmart's produce to not live up to your expectations (or to even live for long). Perhaps because Walmart also sells so much more than just produce, the fresh fruit and veggies just aren't a priority for the store, and it shows.

Best: Whole Foods

Anyone who has been to Whole Foods knows that it's far from your standard grocery store. Everything from the lighting, to the displays, to the foods offered there stands out as being a (Whole) lot fancier than your neighborhood Walmart. And so it should come as no surprise that Whole Foods has some of the best produce out there. For a store that prides itself on selling high-quality, healthy, fresh, and organic items, Whole Foods does a great job in the produce aisle that's for sure. And really, those who shop at Whole Foods know it's more than just an aisle for the produce — it can seem like half the store is fresh fruits and vegetables, and who wouldn't love that? 

According to Consumer Reports, Whole Foods is one of the better grocery stores to buy produce in the United States. Specifically, they received commendable scores for both the quality and variety of the produce they sell. And customers at Whole Foods would wholeheartedly agree with that sentiment. "Whole Foods really has superior produce," one Twitter user explained. "Farmers market [is the] best place for produce or Whole Foods," another added. So while getting your produce fresh from local farmers might be ideal, Whole Foods is basically the next best thing.

Worst: Target

Target is many things, that's for sure. The chain sells everything from clothes, shoes, home decor, personal care items, and yes, grocery items. It makes sense, after all, for busy families to be able to grab something to make for dinner while also getting their diapers, cleaning products, candles, and even a birthday gift they need to give someone. Much like Walmart, though, Target's grocery section leaves something to be desired. And while not every Target has a large fresh produce section, those that do, don't really have much to offer. In fact, Target's produce section is probably one of the worst among every grocery store out there.

Target might not be as infamous as Walmart for worst-quality produce, but they still aren't doing great in the fresh food department. As one Reddit user explained, "The Targets with [a] grocery that I've been to have [a] poor produce selection and the prices were ridiculously high." That's not all! Another user commented, "Target's produce sucks. Whenever I go there, everything looks brown, not fresh. And they hardly have any selections." Target might have a decent selection of grocery items like flour, packaged foods, and even frozen foods — but when it comes to fresh produce? You're better off at another grocery store.

Best: Sprouts

Much like Whole Foods, Sprouts is a grocery store that's pretty well-known for offering a lot more healthy items than typical grocery stores. While there are still the standard departments like the deli, frozen foods, packaged foods, meat department, and produce section, most items in those sections are deemed "healthier," be they organic, gluten-free, dairy-free, vegan, or just about anything else. Basically, no matter what food restrictions or allergies you have, Sprouts has plenty of food for you to choose from. And so it makes total sense that Sprouts' produce would be pretty good.

Sprouts has plenty of "affordable organic produce," according to one Twitter user. "Quality produce every time," another added of the store. And that's not all: Sprouts' produce is high-quality, but it's also a lot cheaper than other grocery stores, even Walmart, according to CBS. Truly, the produce at Sprouts is pretty impressive, and whether you want organic or non-organic, you're sure to get a good deal. Plus, your produce is likely to last a lot longer than produce from other stores thanks to its freshness.

Worst: Grocery Outlet

With the rising cost of living, most people are looking for ways to cut back on spending, especially on groceries. After all, feeding yourself or your family is so expensive lately that a lot of people claim eating out is cheaper. But stores like Grocery Outlet might seem like a great option to save a decent amount of money on your weekly grocery bill — even just looking at the name "Grocery Outlet" makes it seem like it would have some pretty great deals. That said, it's probably best if you don't get your produce from the store, as it's known to be some of the worst out there.

Grocery Outlet received some of the lowest scores for fresh produce from Consumer Reports, and that's not exactly shocking to anyone who has shopped there. Additionally, people on the internet have made it known that Grocery Outlet isn't exactly where you want to get your produce for the week. "Grocery outlet would be so much better if the produce wasn't so mid," one Twitter user explained. "My honey mangos I bought yesterday are literally black on the inside; this is what I get for buying produce from Grocery Outlet," another added. Yikes, that's definitely not what you want for fresh fruit. So while Grocery Outlet might be great for packaged food and snacks, it's not good for produce at all, really.

Best: Wegmans

Wegmans is definitely one of those grocery stores that has the potential for a somewhat cult-like following. It's clean, affordable, and offers so many incredible and delicious foods. Everything from their store brand items to their meat and deli section is delicious, immaculate, and price-conscious. And their produce section is no exception. The produce section at Wegmans is well-organized, constantly stocked, and full of delicious fresh fruits and vegetables that won't rot on your way home from the store.

Not only does Wegmans rank among the top five best grocery stores for produce from Consumer Reports, but customers also can't get enough of the chain's fresh fruits and veggies. "Clean, excellent produce," one Twitter user wrote of Wegmans while another even wrote that, "Wegmans prolly the best supermarket in the world." Now that's high praise!

"Amazing to have a Wegmans 15 minutes away! Will be returning many times for the amazing produce, prepared foods, and CHEESE!" yet another claimed. While yes, cheese is also incredibly important, there is no denying that quality produce like this is worth its weight in gold.

Worst: Key Food

Another more affordable grocery store with a less-than-stellar produce section is Key Food. Located on the East Coast, the chain is certainly convenient and makes it easy to stay on budget, but that doesn't mean everything you buy there is going to be top-notch. Specifically, their produce is pretty sad, unimpressive, and a definite letdown. But don't just take our word for it.

"Key foods produce is nasty," one Twitter user described.

"Key Foods is where produce goes to die," another added. And one Twitter user had quite a lot to say about the store and its produce offerings: "Key Foods is the ripoff. Overpriced and bad quality. Better off traveling to a food bazaar or any smaller produce shop." Add that to the fact that Consumer Reports ranked Key Food as one of the grocery stores with the worst produce, and it's clear that you should go anywhere else to buy your salad makings.

Best: Heinen's

Regional grocery store Heinen's is beloved among Ohio natives, as well as those in Chicago. Basically, if you've been to one, then you know it's a pretty great grocery store. According to Consumer Reports, Heinen's offers a lot of local produce and keeps things fresh, crisp, and high-quality, which is why it ranked so high among every grocery store out there.

"Heinen's has the best produce," one Twitter user put it simply — and that's exactly true. Heinen's works hard to make sure that their produce section is well-maintained, well-stocked, and full of the freshest produce out there. So if you're lucky enough to live near Heinen's, then you should definitely take advantage and grab as many fresh fruits and vegetables as possible. What's more, according to Heinen's website, the main reason why their produce section is such a standout is that they stick with their founder's motto: "You have to find the best to sell the best." And that's exactly what they do.

Worst: Aldi

Aldi might be the most well-known grocery store for when you want to save money (and be the most stressed out while you shop). But while there are a lot of things Aldi does well, produce isn't one of them, so there's a reason why you should never buy your produce from Aldi. Well, a few reasons actually. The produce tends to go bad quickly, isn't stored or displayed well, and there isn't a lot of variety either.

"Take a look at what I have just found after eating one [and] then offering another to a colleague. Not very #peachy; nearly made me #vomit #disgusting," one Twitter user shared, along with a photo of peaches covered in mold. Yuck.

But that's not all. "I walked in Aldi and walked out immediately. There were boxes all over the floors throughout every aisle, broken glasses of sauce, and the produce looked expired. It was so chaotic I was about to have a panic attack," another Twitter user shared. While Aldi might be cheap, it's definitely a hectic shopping experience and clearly not where you want to buy your fresh produce.

Best: Gelson's

Gelson's is a great regional grocery store servicing Southern California — with a pretty stellar reputation for delicious offerings (and even celebrity sightings). Consumer Reports ranked Gelson's as one of the top five grocery store produce sections out there, and there are plenty of reasons why. Not only is Gelson's easy to shop, and full of only the best products out there, their produce is seriously impressive.

"Gelsons has some of the freshest produce I've ever bought. They also have really good prices on random things like Artichoke hearts," one Twitter user explained.

"Used to go to that Gelsons every week. Such beautiful produce," another said. And not only does Gelson's really outdo themselves in the produce department, but they also provide delicious seasonal produce you can't find at a lot of other places, like Hatch Green Chilis. So if you have a Gelson's near you, then it's definitely worth checking out, even if all you're getting is produce.

Best: New Season's Market

Serving Oregan, Washington, and Northern California is New Season's Market, a regional grocery store chain ranked by Consumer Reports as one of the best for produce in the nation. And while you might have never heard of New Season's Market, that doesn't mean it's not worth checking out next time you're near one.

What's more, in 2021 New Season's Market partnered with an artificial intelligence software, Afresh, to make its produce selections even fresher, longer-lasting, and probably even better tasting because of all that. Additionally, New Season's Market is also known for donating leftover produce to those in need, and it looks quite impressive considering all that it's been through. New Season's Market might not be a well-known store for most of the country, but its produce department is seriously something to be admired. By prioritizing efficiency and high-quality goods, New Season's Market has a standout produce department worth checking out.

Best: Market Street

Market Street might be a regional grocery store chain, but it really serves up some great food items. In addition to your standard grocery store fare, Market Street has a top-of-the-line bakery, deli, and even a sushi department that makes fresh bread, sandwiches, hot meals, and sushi dishes daily. But their produce department is really something to behold. Market Street serves up fresh fruits and vegetables, tries to get as much local produce as possible, and keeps everything so clean and well-maintained, it feels like you're shopping in a much more expensive grocery store. 

"I come here for the fresher produce and organized, in-stock inventory," one online reviewer explained of why they shop at Market Street. "Market Street is cleaner, the produce is fresher, they have a better bakery and deli," another added. Seriously, the produce at Market Street is impressive, and anytime you shop, you can pretty much guarantee there will be an employee stocking produce who can answer all your questions.