CHOICE membership

Plastic Wrapped Vegetables in the supermarket

I quite often buy organic fruit and vegetables from markets, but when this isn’t possible I go to the supermarket which now offer quite a good range of organic produce. I am amazed at the amount of plastic that is used to wrap the organic produce, a head of brocolli is not only wrapped in plastic but is also on a poly tray, why I ask. I guess they don’t want to get the vegies mixed up, but surely there is a better way. I have purchased little cloth vegie bags to use when shopping so I don’t bring home an array of plastic bags from the fruit section, but I have no choice when buying organic as the barcode is on the outside of the plastic. Does anyone else find this ironic?

14 Likes

@cwesty, you’re not alone in this frustration. Organic fruit and vegetables seem to attract the most plastic packaging. I’ve read this is to differentiate the products, and to avoid any pesticide sprays used on the supermarket shelves (to keep insects away). However, I haven’t confirmed this information, so if anyone can add to this it would be appreciated.

In any case, after so much effort to adhere to organic principles, arguably the riskiest chemicals in the process can then be added at the last step! We’ve also got some outright ridiculous examples popping up, such as these pre-peeled bananas.

Good thinking with the cloth veggie bags. If you can get to a market this will also help avoid the packaging, but I know it’s not always a feasible option.

2 Likes

It’s an ongoing gripe my wife and I have about organic veg in the supermarket. Fortunately there is now an organic store only certified produce) that has a reasonable range, so we can buy a fair bit from there, and we always have a small range of our organically home grown fruit and veg. We generally just don’t buy excessively packaged fruit and veg, organic or not. It is more than ironic that organic veg is packaged this way, it’s just plain wrong!

4 Likes

I avoid repackaged fruit and vegetables as most of the packaging is ‘modified atmosphere packaging’ to prolong the shelf life of the product within the packaging.

Organic vegetables are included in this sort of packaging as they are higher value product to both the grower and the seller, they also travel further to retailers (particularly those products which are not grown locally due to climatic conditions or seasonality) and the spoiling of organic product costs more.

It allows far greater storage times and as there has been much research on longer storage times and impact on vitamins and other nutrient compounds, I chose not to buy them.

The other reason is the wastefulness of additional, thicker (to retain the modified atmosphere) packaging leaving to more waste and exploitation of our finite resources.

This is why some of the pre-packaged fruits and vegetables are cheaper as there is less waste as the product can be sold for an extended period and transported further to the point of sale. The cost and waste benefit does not override the negatives for such items.

6 Likes

My tiny supermarket tends to cut up and wrap most veg. Cabbage is sold by the quarter, watermelon by one eighth, corn cobs stripped and cut to foam tray size, zucchini & other veg go on foam trays with glad wrap. This is done in-store behind the cash register while waiting for customers. The rest (apart from some onion & spud) are pre-packed in plastic bags. I guess it doesn’t add to the labour cost, makes it easier to scan the bar code, saves some vege bags, but increases plant waste, and plastic waste. I don’t like it, but the store does.

2 Likes

A friend who used to be a certified organic inspector says this is indeed the case

3 Likes

Thanks for the confirmation :+1:

1 Like

Wow, had never heard of that before, it just never ends, thanks for the info.

These are the vegie bags I use, https://www.nourishedlife.com.au/food-storage-containers/501368/onya-life-reusable-produce-bags.html they are great. (sorry if the link doesn’t work I am new to this, good old cut and paste might be required)

2 Likes

Coming from a background of environmental science, wanting the best for my health and the health of the planet, I will never choose Organic produce that is wrapped in plastic over conventional produce that is plastic free. If you do choose to buy Organic produce, keep up the good work of buying from farmers’ markets. They are a great way of reducing your plastic consumption. :slight_smile:

4 Likes

Here’s another upcoming solution to a supermarket packaging bugbear - laser labels to replace the annoying plastic stickers.

2 Likes

I asked at my local little fruit and vegetable store why they did this, and I was told that most of their customers like to know the cost of each item. Thankfully they are happy for me to select my own products in the shop and thus avoid all the styrofoam trays and plastic packaging.

2 Likes

I believe that corn goes off when wrapped as you described i.e. in glad wrap, giving it a musty smell and unpleasant taste. If I cannot buy it loose I do not buy it. So why do they have to add to it’s cost when nature has provided corn with its own wrapper?

4 Likes

I have organic produce delivered by Homefresh Organics but occasionally I need to buy extra organic fruit and veg so buy from Woolies. I too hate the plastic wrapping but at least I can now recycle it via the REDcycle programme which I discovered thanks to Choice about a year ago.

1 Like

Wow, imagine if fruit was lasered with a pick date, how much would the supermarkets hate that!!!

2 Likes

Vegies in the open bins could be a day old or a month old, and there is no way to tell. The packaged ones at least have dates good for guidance, if they can be relied on, noting those labels are under control of the [all sorts of] grocers who do the packaging.
http://freshmarkets.com.au/fresh-specs/ uses shelf life and ignores freshness for the few items I looked up.

Individually laser marked should be a hit but I suspect as @cwesty wrote, the [all sorts of] grocers would be the biggest barriers to adaptation after the producers who had to pay for the equipment. Many of us might be surprised at what is warehoused under special conditions to preserve it for out-of-season availability. “Fresh” could take on a new life as “factual” and not “fake news”.

2 Likes

I would of thought that having the produce wrapped it would stop a lot of people from handling the food so much.

Im not sure really i guess its the way it is nowadays i suppose it may keep things fresher for longer if wrapped up.Just like with meat products, now i agree with eat etc because it keeps fresher and seals the meat instead of just a plastic bag. Ive seen how meat is processed in factories its kinda like a process factory more like it. all the main supermarkets use 1 place cos i saw the packaging. But im not sure what to say considering you are paying more for the fruit and vegetables. I personally liked the days when u went to a fruit shop hardly around now they didnt use plastic wrap.

1 Like

At the end of the day my local fruit market goes around and sprays all the fruit with a fly spray to keep all the fly and insect population down . Is this legal?

1 Like

@Melborn Presumably so, as the supermarkets are doing it, the reason why organic produce is wrapped in plastic.

2 Likes