The Real Reason Grocery Stores Spray Water On Produce

Unless you live by grocery delivery, chances are you've been caught in the crossfire of the automatic spray machines in the produce aisle. You reach in to grab a head of lettuce, and all of a sudden there it comes — a mist of cold water from above. It would seem that the idea behind this would be to keep produce fresher for a longer period of time, but the real reason behind why grocery stores have a timed water release is actually pretty sneaky. 

As it turns out, freshly-watered produce is more appealing to the eye. Taste of Home says that customers are obviously more drawn to glistening, shiny produce than they would be to produce that is sitting on the shelf dry and limp. When watered, produce also remains plump, so over time, produce would shrink without regular helpings of moisture. Basically, the extra boost of water helps it to remain vibrant and more pleasing on the shelf so that customers don't pass it by. 

How you pay more when grocery stores water produce

The biggest reason behind watering produce in the grocery store, though, is that it benefits their profit margins. That extra boost we talked about earlier? It makes produce heavier. Since most produce is priced by weight, the extra water weight helps to raise the overall price. Produce Business revealed the results of research that proves it — in their study, over a 16-hour period without mist, broccoli lost nearly 4 percent of its weight. Add a little water over the same timeframe, and suddenly the broccoli is 5 percent heavier. That 5 percent is going to cost you at checkout, so be sure to give your produce a good shake the next time you take it off the shelf. 

Though misting may help increase the life of your produce, there is such a thing as overdoing it. Excess moisture in produce can cause the growth of microorganisms which lead to a decreased shelf-life (via Martha Stuart). To avoid these problems, be sure to dry any produce before putting it in the fridge, and if you can help it, don't wash your fruits and vegetables until it's time to eat them.