The fruit and vegetable counters are pleasing to the eye: apples are clean, fresh greens are still hanging on kohlrabi and carrots. But what consumers like is bad for the environment, consumer advocates and the Federal Environment Agency (UBA) criticized on Monday. In order for farmers to meet strict retail requirements for the appearance and size of fruits and vegetables, not only will additional pesticides and fertilizers be used, but there will also be unnecessary food loss, consumers and environmentalists stress in two new studies. Since many products are priced per unit rather than per kilogram, consumers will be tempted to buy unnecessarily large quantities. In addition, greens extract energy from plants and make them wither faster.
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Consumer Centers checked the range of selected fruits and vegetables in 25 supermarkets, organic stores and discounters across the country. The result of the market inspection: only about a quarter of apples and 18 percent of carrots were offered in class II, that is, with visual defects and different sizes. In discounters, this offer was even lower.
Vegetables and fruits must be sold by weight
Kohlrabi, cauliflower, iceberg lettuce and broccoli were sold almost exclusively by price per unit rather than by weight. In addition, kohlrabi and radishes were almost always sold with the leaves on, even though they only serve – supposedly – as a sign of freshness and are usually removed by consumers at retail. The federal Environmental Agency and consumer centers are urging retailers to reduce claims beyond legal requirements, to sell fruits and vegetables by weight rather than by the piece, and to do away with the green part of kohlrabi, carrots or radishes.
“Legislative requirements are sufficient for high-quality food,” said APU President Dirk Messner. “Trade should not do more work here.” To make the environment less burdened by the growing of fruit and vegetables, everyone needs to act, including trade.
But consumers can also do something. Because many people don’t know that greens are more than just rabbit food. Green kohlrabi leaves are suitable for salad, and you can make pesto from green carrots.