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How Do Grocery Stores Keep Vegetables Fresh?

By Ferdi Vol
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Almost every time we go out for grocery shopping, we find fresh and juicy vegetables. You might wonder how grocery stores prevent vegetables from getting rotten. Surprisingly, they use some simple steps to keep the veggies fresh throughout the day.

To serve perfectly fresh vegetables to the customers, the storekeepers keep every type of vegetable apart, maintain some specific conditions to store certain veggies and in some cases, use conservation agents to a certain degree that does not adversely affect our body.

In this article, I will extensively discuss how grocery stores keep vegetables fresh. I strongly recommend you to read the entire article if you want to fully understand how grocery stores keep their vegetable products fresh.

Some Basic Tactics that Grocery Stores Follow

Grocery stores follow three general criteria to preserve the perfect quality of every vegetable. To make sure you get vegetables of perfect caliber, most grocery stores take these tactics very seriously and usually ignore harmful preservatives.

They Always Pick the Freshest Vegetables

The first step in making a good enterprise is finding the right commodities. Therefore, grocery stores prefer only the freshest vegetables for sale. They pick veggies of perfect color, weight, and size.

Even a single, rotten tomato can affect all of the vegetables stored. Thus, every commodity is tested very carefully before it is stored in grocery stores. They will throw veggies in the trash bin even if they see a slight sign of deformation. But in some cases, imperfect vegetables are sold in local restaurants. 

They Always Keep Vegetables and Fruits Apart

Those who run grocery stores, know how to maintain the perfect environmental condition to hold the freshness of the veggies. Once in a while, we all store fruits and veggies at the same place, and typically don’t face any issues. But store runners have some in-depth knowledge about storing that we lack.

For instance, almost every fruit releases an organic element called ethylene. For vegetables, ethylene acts as a catalyst that speeds up the process of ripening and noticeably shortens the lifespan. Storing fruits and veggies at the same place has another major downside. Even if one fruit gets spoiled, it will ruin all the vegetables stored.

Perhaps you heard about the insect called fruit fly. When the fruit ripens, fruit flies consume the fruit protein and use it as a hatching ground. They do not particularly damage fruits, but it adversely affects the quality of the veggies. This is another big reason to keep fruits and vegetables apart.

They Cleanse the Products Just Before Displaying

Almost everyone usually washes veggies before storing them in the fridge, but those who run grocery stores know it is not the right way. Because, if you clean the produce before storing, due to having too much moisture they are prone to go bad swiftly as it speeds up the decay process.

Also, the produced moisture will result in the growth of bacteria. These bacteria will shorten the lifespan of the vegetables drastically. Not to mention they are very poor for our welfare. These bacteria will also detrimentally affect the taste of the veggies. So, in grocery stores, vegetables are only washed right before putting them on the display of the store.

They Keep Them Away from Meat Section

You might’ve noticed that the veggies section in a grocery store is distant from the meat section. Management of grocery stores always keeps the veggies away from the meat, as meat tends to drip and this can contaminate vegetables. In worst cases, they store meat under the vegetable and not on the upper shelf or beside.

This way, even if meat drips, it won’t touch the vegetables and thus this trick helps to keep Grocery store’s vegetables fresh.

They Maintain Proper Packaging Tactics

In a grocery store, the packaging process begins right after harvesting the vegetables from a farm. Almost in every industrial farm, there is a packing house and the harvested veggies are shipped there without wasting any time. There, the vegetables are washed, sorted and the debris is cleaned.

The waxing process of vegetables starts afterward. It is done mainly to prevent decay, snuff, and it makes the veggies on the display of the grocery store look more delicious. The veggies are then packaged into a wooden box to avoid any damage while the vegetables are being transported to the grocery store. Before packaging it on a wooden shelf, the products are put into a carton box.

The veggies must have adequate moisture added during transport, or the products will dry up. Conservatives are usually ignored during transportation, but it is used for certain vegetables such as tomatoes. The produce will last much longer than other veggies due to these packaging tactics.

Grocery Stores Use Safe Conservation Agents

In grocery stores, a certain amount of conservator agent is used in vegetables for extending their lifespan. You won’t have to worry about your health though, it'll take far more toxins to poison you than the amount they use in vegetables.

Sulfur dioxide is the most commonly used preservative in stores. This conservation agent works fantastically against yeasts and molds. Nearly all authorized grocery stores use Sulfur dioxide with an adequate concentration in order to neglect detrimental effects on our body.  A small quantity of this chemical will keep the vegetables fresh all day long.

They Treat Each Food Item Accordingly

Every vegetable has different environmental needs. To make a vegetable last longer, meeting those requirements is essential. In grocery stores, each vegetable is treated in a different manner to increase its lifespan.

Certain vegetables, for instance, last for longer through freezing, and some last well at room temperature. For example, in most of the grocery stores, lettuce is stored in a refrigerator, and to preserve it with perfection, they cover it with a paper towel and also use a plastic baggie to store it.

On the other hand, potatoes and onions are stored in a dark and cool place. And refrigeration is avoided as it changes the taste by spoiling the starch potatoes. Grocery stores know the favorable condition for every vegetable they sell. And by maintaining those conditions, they keep vegetables fresh and juicy throughout the day.     

Grocery Stores Spray Water on the Vegetables Frequently

You might have noticed that the employees of grocery stores spray water on the vegetables frequently. This act is very important to keep the vegetables fresh throughout the day. We know that for many necessary metabolic and biomedical activities, vegetables need water. When they are attached to the soil, they naturally absorb it.

But after the rooting of the veggies, the water level must be held high to maximize the product's longevity. Therefore, it is absolutely essential to spray water on the stored vegetables every hour.

Without that, the goods will start to wilt and very soon it will dry out. The vegetable's weight will also drop dramatically, and it won't even last a day. There is an automatic nebulizing instrument in certain grocery stores that sprays water on all the stored veggies. Although some vegetables like potatoes do not need any additional water to store.

Although spraying water on vegetables primarily helps to make them last longer, it does have another positive side. Veggies look much fresher than ordinary vegetables with water sprinkles. So, in some cases, sprinkling water on the commodity is just a publicity scheme.

How Safe Are the Vegetables of Grocery Stores?

In general, the veggies we buy from grocery stores are safe. Every grocery store in the United States has to comply with some safety regulations, and a slight irregularity regarding those rules will result in a permanent shutdown of the store. So, you can buy vegetables from your nearby shop without any consideration.

In most cases, vegetables are harvested from local farms by grocery stores. On these farms, veggies are properly grown and hazardous chemicals are generally ignored in the process of cultivation. Some preservatives with a corresponding concentration are used to preserve their veggies fresh and eatable condition while transporting them from farms to supermarkets.

But that does not mean you should buy vegetables with your eyes closed. In some circumstances, temporary food shops market vegetables that may be particularly health-threatening with needless preservatives. I will always suggest you buy vegetables from a licensed grocery shop. Those shops are periodically inspected and won’t sell hazardous veggies.

Can You Eat Raw Vegetables Bought from the Grocery Store?

It's not safe to eat raw vegetables right after purchasing them from grocery stores. A study reveals that certain grocery store vegetables contain 272 times more bacteria than car wheels. Consuming raw vegetables will severely harm your wellbeing and can also permanently damage your digestive system.

Before consuming raw veggies from grocery stores, you must wash them for at least two minutes. Water is effective for washing vegetables, but for the best results, you should wash them with a vinegar mix. Washing them with a combination of 30 percent vinegar and 70 percent of water will make your veggies clean and almost bacteria-free.

These may not be the only methods grocery stores use to keep their vegetables fresh but they are the most common ones. In this article, I’ve tried my best to explain all of the most important tactics grocery stores use to keep their vegetables fresh. These tips can actually be useful if you would like to store a large number of veggies in your home or shop.

Hope you’ve got the answer to your question “How do grocery stores keep vegetables fresh?” As you can see it’s not about using chemical agents like the news make it out to be. It’s also about proper planning, packaging and storing as well. But of course, chemicals do have a part in it though they are considered safe.

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About the Grocery Store Academy
The Grocery Store Academy is a blog about everything that has to do with grocery stores. This is your #1 spot to find the right information for your needs.
About the Author
Ferdi Vol has worked several years in a grocery store and has a passion for good food. He's happy to share his passion with you!
About Ferdi Vol
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