On the job.
Robert J. White Jr.
Living Earth Market
Native of: Shrewsbury
Family: Married with three children
Job title: Produce manager at Living Earth Market
Job duration: 6 years
What does the job entail?
"The job is to provide the community with the best organic and local organic produce when available. I contact the farms and suppliers and I pick what's going to be sold here, according to what the costumers' needs are. The best part is, it's all organic produce, and it's all good for you. I'm the caretaker of all the produce. I make sure it's all fresh, looks beautiful, and that there's a large variety."
What do you like about your job?
"I like that it's a challenge to keep everything fresh and looking great. I like that it's from the earth. I also like the smell of it all, the textures, colors, and different varieties of the produce. I like to graze on it, too."
What have you learned from this job over the years?
"I became an expert at all the different types of fruits and vegetables and how to take care of them. And the most important thing customers look for in produce is freshness and quality."
What are some of the challenges of the job?
"Well, organic produce doesn't last long, it has a limited shelf life. The challenge is to keep it fresh and sell it before it starts deteriorating."
How did you get into this kind of work?
"When I was 15 I needed a job, so I started working in the produce department at Food World in White City because it was within walking distance from my house. And 25 years later, I'm still doing it. I guess I must like it."
Where do you get the produce products from?
"We get the products from Many Hands organic farm in Barre. Also from our own Living Earth organic farm in Rutland, in addition to several other growers in the region."
What's your favorite produce item?
"Fresh local sugar-snap and snow peas."
What are the challenges of the job?
"I have to interact with customers and give them a great fruit or vegetable experience. Through great customer service, good marketing and buying, I try to create an environment where people want to linger, learn and connect with the produce. I need to know where it's from, what it tastes like and how to prepare and cook the produce I am selling. The customers at Living Earth are great. They are very knowledgeable and just as passionate about produce as I am."
Does the job ever surprise you?
"Sometimes the boxes of produce will arrive with `guests' in them. Over the years, I have encountered a black widow spider in a box of greens from California, and a scorpion in a box of pears from Argentina, both very alive. Pretty scary. Never knowing what may be in the boxes keeps me alert and on my toes."
Compiled by Danielle Rivard
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PHOTOG: T&G Staff/MARK C. IDE JR.
CUTLINE: Robert J. White Jr., produce manager at the Living Earth Market in Worcester, says "The best part is, it's all organic produce, and it's all good for you."