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9 Grocery Store Secrets from the Produce Section You Probably Didn’t Know

This insider info will help you make the best choices while shopping for fruits and vegetables.

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A smiling mid adult woman holds a grocery list as she shops for produce. She reaches to pick up a yellow pepper.SDI Productions/iStock/Getty Images Plus

Grab from the Back

Most produce clerks will rotate older produce to the front. This encourages shoppers to buy up greens before they start to wilt or go mushy. If you want the freshest fruits and veg, reach toward the back. Grabbing from the back of the display also ensures you get items that have been touched the least by other shoppers’ germy hands. And make sure to clean your produce when you get home.

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A woman in a supermarket chooses green vegetables, a concept of agriculture and a vegetarian dietfrantic00/iStock/Getty Images Plus

Shop in the Middle of the Week

To avoid the crowds, and get the freshest produce, it’s best to shop in the middle of the week. Most stores have fresh food delivered on Tuesdays, so on Wednesday you’ll be shopping for that batch of fruits and vegetables.

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Plastic cellophane bags hanging on the stand in the supermarket fruits - vegetables department.R.Igor/iStock/Getty Images Plus

Use a Produce Bag

The grocery store carts, cart handles and checkout conveyor belts are all covered in bacteria. Keep your fruits and vegetables as clean as possible by using a plastic produce bag (or bring your own reusable tote). Of course, always wash your produce thoroughly before consuming.

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Fresh romaine lettuce in supermarket. Concept of healthy food, bio, vegetarian, diet.Natissima/iStock/Getty Images Plus

Pay Attention to Recalls

You’ll most likely hear about a national food recall and grocery stores are quick to take items off shelves. But for real-time notifications from the USDA and FDA, check this food safety app. If you purchased a recalled fruit or vegetable, throw it out and sanitize anything in your kitchen that it came into contact with, like utensils, cutting boards and countertops.

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Isles with food and drinks in the empty supermarket.bogdankosanovic/iStock/Getty Images Plus

Produce Is at the Front of the Store for a Reason

The produce section might be enticing you to spend more money! Locating produce at the front of the store with piles of bright, nutritious fruits and vegetables makes shoppers feel healthy. Once your cart is full of healthy choices, you’re more likely to reward yourself with unhealthy options, spending more on snacks throughout the store. Here are more grocery shopping tips you need to know.

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Teenager holding ecologically friendly reusable bag with fruit and vegetablesArtMarie/iStock/Getty Images Plus

Beware of Impulse Buys

According to the Food Industry Association, 86% of shoppers admit that extra fruits and vegetables frequently end up in their cart. Stores take further advantage of impulse produce purchases with marketing tactics like bright displays and two-for-one discounts. If you’re on a tight grocery budget, be aware of the temptation, and stick to your list.

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bananasKatjabakurova/iStock/Getty Images Plus

There Is a Perfect Banana Color

Bananas are one of the most popular fruits in America and are frequently used to attract shoppers to the produce section. In fact, even the color of the banana is planned with shoppers in mind! According to one consumer behavior expert, bananas with Pantone color 12-0752 (called Buttercup) are more likely to sell than bananas with Pantone color 13-0858 (Vibrant Yellow), which is slightly brighter. Now banana farmers plant their crops under conditions that will create the Buttercup color.

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A farmer washes fresh lettuce at a farmers market stall. Abundant fresh produce piled high at a farmers market. Check out mycarterdayne/iStock/Getty Images Plus

The Water Mist Is a Trick

The periodic misting of produce might seem like it’s keeping your fruits and vegetables fresh, but in fact it’s just a trick to get you to buy more. The water gives produce a dewy, freshly picked look that tempts you to pick it up. In reality, the water might be doing more damage than good. The extra moisture can cause some fruits and vegetables to spoil faster. Use these tricks to keep produce fresh longer.

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"GS1 DataBars, can store more data than traditional bar codes. The first use of this new technology is on loose produce at supermarkets. GS1 DataBars aid in food safety, product tracing, and product recalls, they can include product and manufacturer identification information. Food recalls are made easier when GS! DataBars are used."smartstock/iStock/Getty Images Plus

Check the Price Code to See What’s Organic

If you prefer organic produce, look for the green and white USDA Organic label. If the product doesn’t have an organic label, check the PLU code, or the price look-up code. PLU codes are four digit numbers that identify different types of produce. However, organic produce has a five-digit PLU code that starts with a 9. For example, the PLU code for a regular Granny Smith apple is 3071. But the PLU for an organic Granny Smith apple is 93071.

Up Next: More Grocery Store Secrets You Didn’t Know About

Erica Young
Erica is a cleaning and home d├ęcor expert. She knows exactly how to tidy a filthy kitchen and straighten out a mixed-up pantry! When she's not writing you'll find her organizing a closet, buying more bins she doesn't need or bingeing her latest TV show obsession.