When I was young, my mother would always buy fruit and vegetables from local produce stands that bought produce from local farmers. It was always delicious, never over ripe or under ripe, just perfect. I remember her making fruit salad, always having watermelon that tasted perfect, and tomatoes that weren’t hard as a rock. Whatever happened to those days? Now when you buy produce at the grocery store or even the produce stand, it’s usually tasteless. It gets worse than that. Many farmers pick their produce long before its ripe and use ethylene gas to make the produce look ripe. That’s why you get tomatoes that are perfectly red, but hard as a rock and tasteless. I have thrown out so much fruit because I’ve got it home and it’s been under ripe. Is there anything to prevent this, other than buying produce from produce stands that buy fruit and vegetables from local farmers? Well yes, it’s just might be another 3 or 4 years before we see it.
Scientists have developed a sticker that will be able to determine how much ethylene gas is in the fruit and vegetables. If the produce is low in ethylene gas the stickers will remain white. As the ethylene gas grows the sticker will turn blue to dark blue depending on the ripeness of the fruit or vegetable. The stickers take 24-48 hours to reveal whether or not the produce is ripe or not and the stickers remain dark blue even if the produce is over ripe or completely rotten, so it still has a few bugs to be worked out.
Luckily the stickers will only cost about a penny each, but it will still be 3 or 4 years before you will see these at your local grocery store. I have to say I have my doubts about whether or not these will really help or not. The reason some farmers pick their produce under ripe is because they have to ship it so far and if they ship it ripe, it will be rotted by the time it gets to its destination. So how does this really help things? Don’t get me wrong, it sounds great, but it seems to me that farms will still need to ship the produce under ripe and some produce doesn’t continue to ripen once it’s been picked.
If this sticker does work, it will eliminate all those weird rituals we go through trying to figure out whether or not produce is ripe. Thumping the watermelon, smelling the end of a cantaloupe, squeezing a tomato, pressing the end of an avocado, etc. and worst of all none of these crazy rituals work, you still end up with produce that doesn’t have any taste and is crunchy, it’s so under ripe. But this still doesn’t help with shipping produce long distances. That is another issue I think scientists need to tackle; how to keep produce fresher, longer.