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How old are supermarket vegetables?

How Old Are My Vegetables?

How Old Are My Vegetables?

It's not a question I had thought to ask myself until quite recently. You pick up a bundle of potatoes at the grocery store and you just kind of assume it's been picked somewhat recently and hurried it's way to your nearest grocer. But how long did it really take for those potatoes to go from the ground to your produce shelf? The answer may come as a bit of a shock.

Now, The Shock

The shock came to me earlier this week when I first caught wind of the latest food recall. Last week is was an E. Coli outbreak in Romaine Lettuce crops. This week was a recall on cauliflower. My attention has finally been caught and I decide to follow up on some reports about the cauliflower recall. It turns out that there wasn't actually any E. Coli found on the cauliflower; the recall was just a precautionary measure after the Romaine Lettuce scare. I'm relieved, but I read further only to discover that the produce was "harvested between Nov. 27 and Nov. 30. (" 

I'm not sure what's worse, the chance of being infected with E. Coli or the fact that the cauliflower at the grocery store is 18-20 days old by the time it reaches the produce shelf. 

That's just the beginning. Apples can spend from 6-12 months to reach the grocery store, 1-6 weeks for tomatoes, and 2-12 months for potatoes (The Guardian). During these storage periods they are put in "atmosphere controlled" rooms-basically cold, oxygen deprived storage bins- until they are ready to go to market, at which point they wake the fruits and vegetables back up by spraying them with CO2 and other chemicals while heating them up. Learn more about these artificial ripening processes here.

This Doesn't Seem Right

There is a lot of research that can help explain how these processes are damaging to the fruits and vegetables and our bodies, but it doesn't take a rocket scientist to realize that this doesn't seem like a very ideal way to eat.

Clearly, the most ideal way to eat would be straight from your garden to your table. That's just some of the reason why I'm starting my own garden plot, not to mention that the flavor of a home-grown, vine-ripened tomato is completely otherworldly. I can recall the first time I ever tried a homegrown cherry tomato. I was just a kid and a very picky eater, but it tasted so good that not only did I not fuss, I just kept popping them in my mouth. That was 20 years ago now, but it totally changed my perspective on what a tomato can taste like.

Gardening offers me a lot of great benefits; a respite from the world, an excuse to be outdoors, and an experimental playground for these little science projects. None of these things are quite as good as the endgame though: an unbelievably flavorful batch of fresh ingredients to cook with (or not cook with because ingredients this good sometimes go straight from the vine to my mouth).

Taste It Yourself


If this is something you want to taste for yourself (and trust me, you do), have a look at Ferry Morse seeds. They offer over 1,600 seed varieties including Organics, Heirloom, Indoor and Container Friendly Vegetables, so you can truly create just about anything you can imagine. 



 Happy Gardening…and continue to Live the Garden Life!

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