Food & Nutrition

14 Shocking Things You Never Knew About Grocery Store Produce

It’s not protected from creepy crawlers

Bug on yellow lemon fruit , Lemon on the treeTar chaimongkol/Shutterstock

While they may have a cover on them in transport and storage, produce cartons and shipping containers are not always protected from the elements—or bugs. “Rodents will crawl on them, and bugs like spiders, frogs, flies, etc. So, don’t trust that it’s clean. Always wash the produce you buy,” Nash says. If these secrets surprise you, here are 29 more things your grocer won’t tell you.

Organic doesn’t mean pesticide-free

Father and son spraying organic pesticides on tomato plants in a greenhouse.hedgehog94/Shutterstock

If you instinctively reach for organic produce because you think that means you’re buying fruits and vegetables that were grown without pesticides, Brianne Bell, RD, creator of Frugal Minimalist Kitchen, says you may want to reevaluate. “As a dietitian, one thing my clients are shocked to learn is that organic produce is grown with pesticides, too. They often mistakenly think that organic equals pesticide free, but in reality, it just means pesticides deemed ‘organic’ are used,” she says.

What’s more, organic isn’t license to skip any washing or cleaning steps once you get it home, says Chris Mathews, produce manager and founder of The Great Fruit Hunt blog. “Consumers think it’s okay to eat organic produce without washing. With organic farming there can actually be an increase in food safety concerns because of the close contact with natural fertilizers, such as animal manures and the use of organic pesticides,” he says.

Your produce isn’t washed before it hits shelves

Woman washes vegetables and fruits under running water. Preparing food ingredient for lunchMichal Zylinski/Shutterstock

If you think your apples, avocados, or apricots were washed and rinsed before they were packaged and shipped out of the orchards, you might be in for a surprise, Mathews says. “One thing that would surprise a lot of people is that there is not a lot of checks and balances for certain foods before they arrive,” he says. “Some literally come straight from the field to the grocery store floor. For example, there isn’t any sort of cleaning, sanitation, or processing of most berries before they hit a grocery case.”

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