Bizarre Fruits and Vegetables: Where and How to Get Your Hands on Them

Photo C/O: Oishii.com

When was the last time you went to a grocery store and bought a foreign piece of produce? I don’t just mean the first time you went and bought broccoli or eggplant. I’m thinking more along the lines of the white jewel strawberry, squashini or crystalline ice plant.

To be fair, most of the fruits and vegetables mentioned above are not common, nor are any of them available in local grocery stores. Some are strictly sold at auctions to the highest bidder in Japan, while others may be exclusively sold to restaurants and chefs alike.

Buying unique produce comes at the cost of finding where to purchase it and specifically what to purchase. While the market is limited, one is liable to be selling it if someone is asking for it. There’s something to be said for popularizing otherwise uncommon fruits or vegetables. Take the acai berry or kale, both of which saw considerable growth in popularity over the previous decade. So why can’t atomic “acid trip” tomatoes or rose celery be the next big thing?

Crystalline Iceplant - Credit: Girl&Dug.com

A New Taste Sensation

Where do these strange pieces of edible nature originate? And why the hell have I never heard of or eaten an alpine white strawberry? The answer might be as simple as climate and conditions that are required for particular plants to grow. However, there needs to be a market for the obscure. Without a demand for strange or new produce, consumers will continue eating what they know.

It’s no surprise that diversifying our personal pallets for produce can be difficult. Often, we look past vegetables or fruits that are unfamiliar. Or, in the case of  jackfruit, it can be an intimidating 22 pound first purchase if you’ve never tried one. That’s why farmers and companies, even the likes of Driscoll’s, are branching out to cultivate unique or strange varieties of our most common fruits.

There is no denying that one of the greater pleasures in life is eating something new and enjoying it. It’s the food equivalent to hearing a good song for the first time. So regardless of the doubt and fear held inside as you question if lavender line radishes are actually tasty or not; you might try a new fruit or vegetable that blows your metaphorical socks off.

Signature Foodie Box - Credit: Girl&Dug.com

Where Can I Purchase?

If you aren’t sold on the idea of obscure fruits, just check out the work being done by Aaron Choi of Girl & Dug Farms in San Marcos. Alongside his family, Choi is growing some of the highest quality exotic, wild and kooky produce he can get his hands on. Girl & Dug Farms sell their produce to local, higher-end restaurants while also selling subscription, theme and build-your-own boxes online.

Choi is not alone in his pursuit to introduce unique high quality produce to the public. There are others such as Fruits N’ Rootz which aims to inform their customers on the origins and history of the exotic fruits they sell online. Companies like Oishii, who sell The Omakase Berry, look to corner a specific market by creating the best tasting and highest quality versions of their unique produce.

These are just some of the farmers and companies bringing to life unique culinary experiences by offering the best of something new. There is a potentially infinite amount of unique and uncommon fruits and vegetables one is likely to never find in a common grocery store. At present, the market doesn’t demand them, but somewhere, someone will always attempt to shine light into the unknown.

Atomic "Acid Trip" Tomatoes - Credit: Girl&Dug.com

What’s in the Future?

It’s likely that fruits and vegetables in stores and online will only continue to become more diverse and readily available. Food fads come and go often but they stamp their individual mark on the culture of our food. Just five years ago local grocery stores hardly had a trace of rambutan or dragon fruit, but with popularity and curiosity comes the demand for such items.

Take Oishii in New York, which grows strawberries in an indoor vertical farm, or Girl & Dug Farms in California that cultivates a vast variety of obscure produce; they will prosper and continue breaking through to the mainstream. They lead the way for a potentially endless supply of high quality unexplored food possibilities.