14 Things You Probably Never Knew About Grocery Store Produce
The rainbow of colors will seem a little less dazzling when you read these surprising facts.
Your grapes might be full of spiders
There is no shortage of horror stories from shocked consumers who pull apart a bunch of grapes or bananas to find a hideous eight-legged spider staring back at them. Fruits are generally sprayed with pesticides after harvesting and before shipping to kill any stowaways, but sometimes, those creepy-crawlies survive. Black widows have been found in grapes; deadly Brazilian wandering spiders can hitch a ride in bananas. But if you encounter them, Scientific American says you should scoop them up, not squish them. If they bite you, be sure to take them with you to the hospital so they can be identified for proper treatment.
Fellow shoppers are pretty gross
The produce department employees and you aren’t the only people handling fruit and vegetables you intend to buy. Every person who walks through that store could potentially touch it. They may squeeze, poke, or thump it, looking for the just-right piece they want to buy. All of that equals more bacteria on your food and plenty of reasons to wash everything well. These are the secrets restaurant menus are hiding from you.
Stores mark up their produce a lot
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“Produce is way overpriced; it’s usually marked up 60 percent,” Nash says. Some grocery stores allow local farmers to sell their produce at their stores, but they aren’t always paid a fair price, she says. If you want more to go to the farmers who grew the food, you may want to seek out farmers’ markets or co-ops and community-supported agriculture (CSA) groups.
Pre-cut fruit has a short shelf-life
Pre-cut produce is a time saver, certainly, and it will cost you a few more of your hard-earned dollars. But pre-cut fruit might cost you in other ways, too. Consumer Reports says that fruit that’s been cut and packaged for retail sale is exposed to oxygen, light, and possibly heat. All of these elements can affect the fruit’s vitamin content, and quickly deteriorate its quality.
Old produce might end up in the salad or soup bar
A lot of produce that doesn’t sell is tossed out, but not all of it. Forbes says grocery stores will use the fruits, leafy greens, and vegetables that are nearing their peak freshness or recently passed the use-by date in their salad and hot bar offerings. These foods aren’t bad or potentially harmful, they’re just at a point that the typical consumer won’t buy them. Now that you know everything there is to know about produce, these are the foods you always need to wash before eating.