Arina P Habich/ShutterstockNo matter where you shop for your groceries, you’ve probably noticed one thing that every store has in common: the produce section. The colorful stacks of fruits and veggies are always located near the front (and there’s a sneaky reason for that, but that’s another story). Many of them are encased in a glowing cooler that sprays the food with water. This is pretty standard wherever you go: 80 percent of American grocery stores mist their vegetables. Have you ever wondered why?
When it comes to produce, customers typically assume that fruits and veggies are cleaner or fresher when they’re misted, but this isn’t always the case. (In fact, apples in particular might be several months old when you buy them.) Stores want to appeal to shoppers’ senses: When compared to dry produce, plump fruit and shiny vegetables look more appealing, add a fresher scent to the store, and cause consumers to be more drawn to the section where they’ll stock up.
But be careful—just because it’s wet doesn’t mean you can skip washing it. Instead, you still have to run your veggies under the faucet when you get home, like this.
Stores make more money when the produce looks good, but they make even more when it’s heavy. In addition to the food’s aesthetic appeal, spraying will maintain the water content of fruits and vegetables, which are lighter when dry. This means that any produce paid for by the pound will cost more when it’s sprayed simply because the water makes it heavier. This practice accounts for a 25 percent hike in profits. To make sure you’re not paying more for your food than it’s worth, shake off any damp fruits or vegetables before putting them in your cart.
Looking for more easy ways to save money at the grocery store? We’ve got ideas!
While misting fruit and vegetables makes them more eye-catching and expensive, it does have health benefits. According to the New York Times, some vegetables require some mist to keep from wilting, so this practice can extend shelf life (as long as it isn’t overdone!) and keep you from ingesting bacteria-laden rotten food. Here’s how to make your fruits and veggies last longer once you’ve taken them home.
Whether you think the practice is sneaky or smart is up to you, but one thing’s for sure. That store-sprayed produce is still delicious and safe to eat, so dive in and try some of our favorite vegetarian recipes tonight.