We were surprised when the cucumbers we received from a farm in Texas for this week’s deliveries came individually shrink-wrapped. Unfortunately, this represents some of what is wrong with our food system today — wasteful packaging required by long-distance travel. Cucumbers are notoriously bad at staying crunchy and moist without spoiling during travel.
The Kitchn wrote a good article on the topic.
“Plastic wrap serves as an extra layer of protection for cucumbers that have particularly thin skin, like English cucumbers. This snug seal reduces and prevents rehydration and potential damage that can occur during packing and transit, and continues to play an important role even once you get them home.
The tight plastic wrapping also helps cucumbers last longer in the fridge at home. It acts as both an insulator to protect against cold injury and prevents and slows dehydration and spoilage. Plastic-wrapped cucumbers typically last about 10 days in the refrigerator, which is a bit longer than their unwrapped counterparts. As an added bonus it also means that less hands are touching those cucumbers before you take them home.”
Even though the cucumbers we’re sending are from a local farm, that local farm also distributes to farther-away places, thus making it more efficient to wrap everything going out its door. As a growing business, we are sometimes at the mercy of how farms provide produce for chain grocers. Some argue that the plastic allowing cucumbers to reach customers’ doors unscathed is better than the food waste associated with cucumbers spoiling en route.
Even our company has dealt with complaints about mushy cucumbers in the past! While we continue to fight the packaging waste, we included cucumbers with the shrink wrap to ensure their freshness and to teach customers more about the packaging associated with their food.