Posts Tagged “fruits”

Wal-Mart Working to Upgrade its Handling of Produce

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WalMartYou buy a tasteless cantaloupe at Wal-Mart, or a sour grape sold as being sweet, just bring your receipt back to the store and they’ll refund you money, under a new police in U.S. stores selling produce.  This according to a recent story by Reuters news service.

As the largest grocer and seller of produce in the United States, Wal-Mart  has already lowered prices on produce as it tries to get its shoppers, many of whom are on limited budgets, to buy more healthy fare.   The huge chain, which made a splash in produce nearly 20 years ago, but has since seen its produce departments lose some of their shine, says it is now working on getting fresher produce to its stores more quickly and training its staff to do a better job of selling the goods.

Walmart is buying directly from growers and relying on its own distribution centers and trucking systems to get product from the field to shelf faster.  It has produce experts working with farmers in key growing regions and aims to double its sales of locally grown produce by December 2015.

Buying more local produce and cutting supply chain costs have helped Walmart keep a lid on prices, which has been key in its push to stay ahead of rivals that include traditional grocers such as Kroger Co and drugstores such as Walgreen Co. Walmart started to see sales gains in produce earlier this year after it began making improvements in produce handling.

Other chains, such as Safeway Inc and Texas’ H-E-B, have already offered guarantees on their produce, but Walmart’s push will be the biggest as it is the nation’s biggest retailer.

Walmart customers not satisfied with the produce can bring their receipt back to the store for a refund. Walmart said the shoppers will not need to bring back the produce to qualify.

To ensure that fresh produce makes it to the stores, Walmart said unnamed third-party service providers will do weekly checks in more than 3,400 of its stores selling produce. Walmart said it would benchmark itself and its competitors week over week.

Walmart also said it recently began a produce training program for 70,000 employees. Store managers, market managers and produce department managers are set to learn more about handling fruits and vegetables. Quality guides for workers will illustrate how to identify top produce, the company said.

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Website Covers Safe Fruits and Vegetables

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A recent Stanford University nutritional comparison study has generated intense consumer interest about the differences between conventionally and organically grown fruits and vegetables.  But, a website – – was created specifically for consumers who are interested in science based information and perspectives about the safety of both conventional and organic produce.
“The Alliance for Food and Farming (AFF) wanted to create an information resource for people so that they can make educated shopping decisions for themselves and their families,” says Marilyn Dolan, Executive Director for the AFF.  “We think the information presented on will reassure consumers that they can choose either organic or conventionally grown products with confidence.  The science and the facts support that both production systems are very safe,” Dolan explains.
The website features information from experts in the fields of toxicology, nutrition, risk analysis, consumer attitudes, organic and conventional pesticide usage trends and farming.  “One of the most popular features is the calculator function on the website,” Dolan says. This function allows consumers to click on who they are (man, woman, teenager or child) and then select their favorite fruit or vegetable.  The tool then calculates the number of servings you would have to eat in a day and still not see any effect from pesticide residues.  “The calculations show a consumer would literally have to eat hundreds to thousands of servings  – no matter if you are an adult or a child – and still not see any health impact from pesticide residues,” Dolan adds.
The calculator function and corresponding report was developed using information from the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Pesticide Data Program.  The USDA’s monitoring data was analyzed by Dr. Robert Krieger, a toxicologist who heads the Personal Chemical Exposure Program at University of California, Riverside. It should be noted that Dr. Krieger was asked to analyze the highest residue levels found by USDA.
Another report “Scared Fat” features new consumer research results concerning how fear based messaging and marketing tactics are actually becoming a barrier to consumption of healthy fruits and vegetables, especially among low income consumers.  “The survey showed that almost 10% of low income consumers stated they would reduce consumption of fruits and vegetables after hearing commonly used messaging that calls into question the safety of fruits and vegetables,” Dolan says.
Dolan points out that this month the USDA’s Economic Research Service issued a report that showed 10% of American households were not able to provide their children with “adequate, nutritious” food at times during 2011.  “The USDA report illustrates the real issue,” Dolan says. “Low income consumers already struggle to put healthy and nutritious foods on their tables.  This is why reassurance that more affordable produce is nutritious and safe is of crucial importance if we are to improve the diets of Americans and lower obesity rates.  Misguided  safety fears cannot become another barrier to increasing consumption of the very foods that health experts say we should be eating more of,” Dolan explains.
Other popular sections on the website include “Ask the Experts,” which features videos of farmers explaining how they control pests and diseases on their organic and conventional farms, a list of the most popular fruits and veggies with explanations on their nutritional value, regular blog postings and consumer food safety tips.
“These are only a few examples of the information that can be found on and there is just so much more,” Dolan explains.  “We hope provides consumers with a place that they can go to read and learn more so they can make educated shopping choices,” Dolan says.  “But we also hope that this information helps them to include more fruits and vegetables in their diets with confidence.”
The Alliance for Food and Farming is a non-profit organization formed in 1989 which represents organic and conventional farmers and farms of all sizes.  Alliance contributors are limited to farmers of fruits and vegetables, companies that sell, market or ship fruits and vegetables or organizations that represent produce farmers.  Our mission is to deliver credible information to consumers about the safety of all fruits and vegetables.  We do not engage in lobbying nor do we accept any money or support from the pesticide industry.  In the interest of transparency, our entire 2011 tax return is posted on

Source: Alliance for Food and Farming

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Is Organic Really Better than Conventional Produce?

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Published research from Stanford University reafirms what I have believed to be true for years.  While organic fresh fruits and vegetables are touted by many to be more safe and more nutritious than conventional fresh produce, findings do not support that popular notion.

What you often can count on is organic produce costing more than regularly grown produce.  While the research affirms the fact that certified organic produce has less pesticide residues than conventional food, it is no big deal.  The pesticide residues on conventional produce are well within Federal requirements.  These residues are so low they are not harmful.

I have met and got to know many large, commerical growers of produce over the years.  They are for the most part, good, honest, decent people.  They have families and would never intentionally risk the lives of consumers or their families or friends by excessively using pesticides and other chemicals.

The research was published September 4 in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

Does organic produce taste better than convention produce?  Sometimes, sometimes not.   It is similar to buying a branded fruit or vegetable versus a generic brand in your supermarket.  The branded item may cost more, but by no means is it assured of tasting better than a similar non-branded product.

Over the decades less and less pesticides have been used on conventional fresh fruits and vegetables, as technology and advances in agriculture have progressed.  A noble goal is that someday it will be economically viable to grow fresh produce without the use of any chemicals.

Meanwhile, I will continue to base my produce shopping decisions on quality and price.  — Bill Martin








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Produce Prices in April Up, But Down from Year Ago

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The index for fruits and vegetables posted the largest increase of any food group, rising 1% percent in April after a series of declines, according to a report from the Bureau of Labor Statistcs.  Despite the April increase, the report said the fruits and vegetables food group is the only one to decline over the past 12 months, falling 1.7% compared with this time last year.

Lower energy costs in April helped hold the Consumer Price Index steady despite a pne percent hike in price index for fruits and vegetables.

The agency said the 1.7% decline in energy costs offset increases in food, which saw five of the six major grocery store food group indexes increase. Cereal and bakery products rose 0.4%, while the index for meats, poultry, fish and eggs rose 0.1%. The index for dairy fell 1% in April, the third straight decline.

Average price data reported by the bureau showed retail tomato prices in April were $1.39 per pound, down from $1.45 per pound in March and sharply off from $2.27 per pound in April 2011.

The average price for red delicious apples in April was $1.26 per pound, down from $1.28 per pound in March and lower than the $1.35 per pound average a year ago. Navel oranges averaged 91 cents per pound, up from 85 cents in March but down from 93 cents a year ago.

Banana prices were also lower than a year ago, with the April price of 60 cents per pound off from 62 cents a year ago.

The report said the food-at- home price index has risen 3.3% in the past year, compared with a 2.9% increase for food-away-from home.

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