From this answer and the discussion in comments:

[T]he problem is mechanical damage: every time someone picks up a piece of fruit and puts it down again it may cause small soft spots and local damage - And think about the shoppers that try to judge ripeness by pushing or pinching the produce. This will cause damage, invisible at first, but rotting soon, either in the store or at other unsuspecting customers’ homes – Stephie

I had considered the harms of pushing or pinching the produce before this, and tried to avoid doing either, but hadn't thought of the damage from simply picking up something and putting it back down. And now that I think of it, I can't come up with a way to examine fruit without causing such mechanical damage. Even rolling it around in-place could be just as, or more, harmful.

What can I do to examine fruit without causing avoidable damage?

  • Philosophy comment on my part, so will not put as an answer. I see it as food should be treated with respect, be it picking out a piece of produce or how a piece of meat from and animal that gave up its life for me. Consider that if you do not buy an item, someone else may, and you are buying something others have handled. If you do take it, you and others you share with will eat it. Treat is as you would like others to treat what you eat and you will likely be treating it correctly. Any handling if not necessary is too much, but some will be needed so just be as gentle as you can.
    – dlb
    Jul 12, 2018 at 4:53

2 Answers 2


The first step is to only pick up items you're likely to buy. Then you should only have to put down items that have an actual problem already.

For some things you want to check for ripeness, but under-ripe items are more robust, so it should be possible to pick them up gently without damage and put them down again. After all, it's handled by people and machines quite a lot before you ever see it. If on the other hand you're looking for something underripe so it keeps for longer (and you can't go by colour as with bananas) you will need to be very gentle indeed handling potentially ripe items.

  • 1
    @Stephie emphasis added. My phone's playing up so I came back to copy-edit on desktop.
    – Chris H
    Jul 11, 2018 at 8:48
  • BTW I'm assuming a supermarket (or similar) here, i.e. without staff. Much of what you're checking for is damage caused by previous bad handling (customers or staff)
    – Chris H
    Jul 11, 2018 at 8:51
  • There is something to be said about preferring under-ripe items on occasion (so the ones I put down would be ripe ones - likely more prone to damage). Of course, the "gentle" part should help with that.
    – muru
    Jul 11, 2018 at 9:11
  • @muru that's true, if you want them to ripen at home for example.
    – Chris H
    Jul 11, 2018 at 9:12

Chris hit the most important point already: it has probably been handled far less gently already, so you need not be too concerned.

In the spirit of being gentle, I:

  • Do not poke or jab the produce

  • Always set it down gently---imagine setting an egg on the counter without breaking it

  • Squeeze gently---freshness is usually reflected by firmness, and you can judge that without deathgripping it or digging fingers into it

  • Spread carefully---it requires very little dexterity to inspect most leafy vegetables without ripping them apart

  • Do not tap or pound produce---there is usually a way to tell without playing percussion

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