Have you ever noticed that farmers' market produce is not packaged, but almost every bit of produce that comes into a grocery store has some sort of agricultural packaging? This is universal, but not too many people think about it when they look at fresh produce and "fresh" produce. There are several reasons why the produce you see in the grocery store is packaged, and the produce in the farmers' markets and farm stands is not.
1. Freshness versus Maintaining Freshness
The produce you see at farm stands and farmer's markets were likely harvested a day or two before. This produce is as fresh as it gets. The only fresher it gets is if you follow the farmers around their fields, pick and pluck the produce yourself and eat it the same day.
The produce that is packaged is relatively fresh. It has already been harvested up to ten days before. It has been washed to remove dirt and some possible pests lurking on it. Then it is packaged in plastic bags or cellophane wrapping to help maintain freshness during shipping. The packaging maintains freshness until the appointed shelf life of less than a week expires, or until you buy it and take it home to eat.
2. Food Regulations
Farm stands and farmers' markets are not held to the same food regulations as grocery stores. Everything a grocery store sells has to be inspected and pre-approved for market. That means that most everything sold in a grocery store has to pass inspection and that every bit of produce has to look and feel like a healthy product. For most products, that means bagged or wrapped in packaging. In the event that some packaged produce goes bad on the shelf, its rottenness does not affect the other bags of produce or wrapped produce, thereby preventing large losses of large volumes of produce and monetary losses, too.
At a farm stand or farmer's market, the farmers charge a flat price for produce. A dollar for a head of lettuce or four ears of sweet corn simplifies the monetary exchanges on all produce sales. In a grocery store, that just does not work well. Since many foods cannot have pricing stickers on them, the food has to be packaged for sale and contain a barcode for easy scanning. As long as the produce is wrapped with a bar code, the code and the grocery store's checkout system can identify what is being purchased, and generate sales data based on regular price items and on-sale items.
For more information, contact a company like Bulk Bin Packaging.