We Finally Know Why Grocery Stores Mist Produce

Head into any grocery store and you'll likely find the produce department almost immediately with the fruit front and center and veggies on the sides. The "edge" section of the produce department matters because it's where you'll find most of the vegetables you're looking for — lettuce heads, parsley, and even eggplant. But the moment you walk over to those vegetables with misters gently spraying them with water at regular intervals, you've just entered a trap (per AARP).

You may not have thought about why the "misters" actually exist in almost every grocery store. Maybe you've found them fun to run your hands under when you were a child and eventually forgot that they're a notable part of the supermarket. However, the misters that are keeping your favorite vegetables nice and wet have an important function in the grocery store — one that could compel you to spend more money than you need to (per Produce Business).

Why misters make you want to spend more

If you've ever thought about what those misters actually do, you may have assumed that they're there to keep the produce fresh. Maybe vegetables need more water than fruit does when they're on display. Or maybe that's seemingly logical thinking that your local supermarket wants you to hang onto so that you'll buy more produce.

It turns out that grocery store misters do nothing to most of the vegetables that they spray (per AARP). That's right. Zero. Zip. Nada. They do, however, contribute plenty to the grocery store's bottom line, and it's all thanks to how the misted vegetables look. Grocery ads for produce often show vegetables looking spotless and glistening with water, which might make your mouth water for a salad made with a fresh head of lettuce. To match this image, grocery stores keep some vegetables under misters so that the water will keep them looking fresh. Are they actually fresher? Not in the slightest, but customers might be more willing to ignore produce that doesn't look the greatest when they hold it if they see it displayed under the mist first. If produce looks fresh, customers will spend money on it, even if they don't need it, and that's thanks to some misty trickery (per Penn State).

Avoid the mist trap

The solution to this conundrum is simple — don't tempt yourself by looking at misted produce. Although you might think that you need to visit that particular produce section to shop, you can avoid the mist almost completely. Many of the vegetables that are typically misted are available in other sections of the produce department, and you can find vegetables in bags or other containers, too. Buying bagged lettuce instead of that lettuce head that's sitting right under the mist can easily help you avoid the mist trap.

According to AARP, buying frozen produce is a great substitute for shelling out for the misted produce you usually buy. Frozen vegetables are a fantastic option if you don't know exactly when you'll use them, freezing vegetables ensures that they don't go bad for a long time. Freezing vegetables also helps retain their nutrients, so it's actually healthier to use frozen vegetables as opposed to fresh ones. And of course, the fact that the frozen food aisle is usually not near the produce department could help you skirt those pesky misted vegetables. Although the misted vegetables in the produce aisle may look extra fresh (and extra tempting), they're no fresher than other vegetables (per Mental Floss).