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If you’re the kind of person who buys your own vegetables, then you have probably observed at your local grocery stores that the staff keeps spraying water on the vegetables and fruits. Since the plants have already been uprooted, why do they need to be sprayed so often?
Why do they spray water on fruits and vegetables at grocery stores?
Short answer: There are a few reasons behind this act; spraying water over green leafy vegetables and fruits keeps them hydrated and prevents them from drying out over the course of their shelf life. It also makes those greens look fresher and more appealing to customers.
How do plants stay hydrated (when they’re still in the ground)?
Just like humans, plants need water for a number of biochemical and metabolic activities that keep them alive. When they’re still rooted in the ground, they get all the water they need from the soil where they’re planted. The root hairs of plants help them absorb water and essential nutrients from the soil through a biological process called osmosis.
The water (and minerals) absorbed by the roots is transported to various parts of the plant to keep those crucial metabolic processes up and running.
Hydration of greens in grocery stores
It’s quite evident that plants can take care of their water needs all by themselves as long as they’re still attached to the ground. However, when they’re uprooted and stored somewhere else (like a grocery store), their water needs must be taken care of, so that moisture is maintained throughout their shelf life.
If it weren’t for the regular ‘misting’ of greens, they would start to wilt and rapidly dry out in the (relatively) dry confines of the store. They would also experience a reduction in weight and shrink in size.
In order to prevent this from happening, store owners take special care of their vegetables and fruits. In some stores, they even have automatic misting machines that spray small amounts of water all over the greens, keeping them hydrated all day. Note that not all vegetables (e.g., potatoes and onions) need to be sprayed regularly when stored.
Spraying water on vegetables makes them look fresh
Vegetables are frequently sprayed with water not just for the sole purpose of keeping them hydrated, but to also make them look fresher. Store owners know that customers are more likely to choose vegetables that appear misted and green, rather than veggies that appear to be all dried out, as though they’re struggling through their last days on Earth.
Hence, the frequent misting.
Excess misting on vegetables can be counter-productive
Spraying water on the greens in the store is good, but just like anything else in the world, too much of it can be a bad thing. Excess water on the greens allows microorganisms to degrade plant tissue, thereby producing mold and rot. Not only does this have a severe impact on the shelf life of the greens, consuming plants with rot can also be highly dangerous to those who consume it.
Therefore, when preserving green leafy vegetables, make sure that you spray water on them regularly, but don’t overdo it, as it could have some very unsavory consequences!