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Why Supermarkets Are Not Always the Best Place to Buy Your Fresh Produce

Supermarkets are convenient. There is no denying this.   They are on every corner. They sell pretty much anything we need for our pantries and kitchens.

But, if it was just as easy to purchase your fresh produce from another source, how would it stack up? What do you think- how does buying local compare to supermarket quality, price, taste and longevity?

Personally, I shop through a food co-op. It definitely shortens the logistics chain between the grower and myself.  If you aren’t able to source a co-op, try purchasing from the growers direct (if you are lucky enough to live amongst them) or explore farmers markets (the next best thing). They could be excellent sources of fresh food, if you are new to the idea of buying local. Yes- food is probably grown near where you live- check it out.

Why you may want to think about it:

I won’t deny supermarkets are a huge part of our Australian food culture. However, you may want to look deeper into where your food comes from. Here are a few things to consider:

  1. Supermarket produce may not be as fresh as it looks: To streamline logistics costs, supermarkets may choose to purchase in bulk from their growers. They then store the excess in cool-rooms to be sold much later.  Numerous studies have been done on the average age of a supermarket apple when purchased by a consumer. Most of these studies show the average supermarket apple as having a shelf age of close to a year old!

  2. It may not be as local as you think: Supermarkets want to bring convenience to their customers all through the year.  If you are feeling like stone fruit in October (before the Australian season actually hits), you’re probably going to find it. Chances are, it has been grown somewhere other than Australia.

  3. It’s been handled…a lot: Supermarket logistic chains are lengthy. Before you pick up that fruit or veggie, there have been lots of fingers on it before it hits the displays.  Employees who don’t follow hygiene standards and/or your fellow customers rummaging for the freshest pieces probably don’t help in the cleanliness department.

  4. Displays are designed to trick you: Abundance and uniformity is key in a supermarket display.  Produce always looks so good. You are most likely in a hurry- so – like most people- you just grab-and-go.  In order to keep stock moving however, the oldest stock is usually the most accessible. To get the freshest pieces it’s probably a good idea to dig a little deeper (see point 3).

  5. Produce is mostly likely laden with chemicals: Supermarket produce generally has to withstand a barrage of shuffling through the logistics chain between the farm and the supermarket display. Varieties that supermarkets purchase tend to be pretty hardy.  Chemicals that prolong shelf life and keep away the bugs aid the required need for longevity. When you do buy it-  you might want to give it a really good washit’s  probably best that you wash before you eat it.

What do you think- is looking local worth a few minutes to investigate?


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