The Importance of Shelf Life

Simon, our Leader of Biosecurity, spends his days thinking about supply chain, nutrients, shelf life, and packaging. In this post, he breaks down their relationships and why they’re important to Planted!

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Here at Planted, we are proud to offer the freshest greens available, but how can we make such a broad claim? It’s simple, the closer a vegetable is grown to the consumer, the fresher it will be. It doesn’t hurt to have packaging designed based on the science of our specific greens, either! 

Transportation

More than half of the lettuce consumed in the United States is grown in the Salinas Valley of California, a 4 day, nearly 2,500 mile, truck ride from California to Michigan. Once greens arrive here, they spend a few more days going from distributor, to store, to being stocked on the shelves and purchased. This first week post-harvest is crucial when we think about nutrition, flavor, and crispness of the greens we eat. There have been numerous studies demonstrating the magnitude of mineral loss, phytonutrient (think antioxidants) deterioration, and overall quality loss of products that spend the first seven days of their freshness unavailable to consumers, on a truck or in a cooler. One such study, conducted in South Africa, demonstrated 23.5%, 21.3%, 24.8%, and 14.3% loss of Potassium, Phosphorus, Calcium, and Magnesium respectively, after only 2 days on the store shelf! 

Not only do our controlled environment agriculture practices help us grow the healthiest and happiest greens we can, we also do our best to reduce the time between when we harvest the greens and when you purchase them! We’ve cut out the long-haul truck journey by bringing the farm to our community. We also act as our own distributor, delivering greens, usually harvested less than 48 hours before, to ensure they are spending their freshest days on store shelves or on customer plates, rather than on the highway!

Packaging

In addition to making sure our greens get to customers in the shortest time possible, we have also sought out particular packaging that helps maintain freshness in response to how the plant acts post-harvest. When a plant is harvested, it continues to “live” despite being detached from the root. This process is called respiration, in which oxygen is used to turn the carbohydrates created during photosynthesis, into carbon dioxide and energy. This process causes plant tissues to break down rapidly. Planted uses the latest packaging to passively limit the amount of oxygen available for respiration. We have worked with industry leaders in produce packaging to design microscopic perforations in our (coming-soon) sealing film specific to our product. These perforations ensure an oxygen equilibrium is reached rapidly post packaging, preventing the process of respiration from continuing indefinitely, and extending the peak freshness period. Buying a package of greens only to discover it mushy and smelly the next day is a thing of the past! 

Not only will you be craving our greens because they haven’t trekked across the country losing flavor and nutrients along the way, they will last longer in your fridge than any lettuce you’ve bought before!


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