What you think you're getting when buying produce may not be accurate

by Rich Finzer

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Have you ever heard the expression "It is what it is?" Well, sadly shoppers, sometimes it ain't what it is! "Rich, what are you mumbling about now?" Good question. What I'm talking about is buying produce that is prepackaged at the grocery store, because sometimes what you think you're buying is not what you end up with. For a case in point, let's discuss carrots.

I own a horse and he adores carrots. Consequently, I buy a couple of bags of the things for him each week. And whenever I do, I get free carrots. "Rich, have you been nipping at the cooking sherry?" Nope. Here's how I do it. The carrots, which come in two-pound bags, don't all weigh the same amount, so I weigh them on the scale in the produce department. As an example, the last two bags that I purchased weighed a total of 5.5 pounds, meaning I wound up with almost 50% more product for the four-pound price. Jackpot!

Next time you're buying a head of lettuce, heft a few to find the heavier ones. Then place the likely candidates on the scale for verification. Lettuce is typically sold by the head, not by weight, so the crafty shopper finds the heavier ones and gets more for their money. Now admittedly, most produce department scales are not checked by a weights and measures guy for accuracy. However, their relative degree of accuracy will carry over to anything you put on the scale. If you're real stickler, weigh a five-pound bag of sugar. If the scale reads five pounds, you're in business, but if it's off slightly, you can mentally adjust and still find the heaviest items.

This little system can be used when buying any prepackaged produce, which is being sold by weight. So whether it's carrots, lettuce, bags of spuds or apples or celery, let the grocer's produce scale be your ally and you could wind up with some free veggies of your own. Be warned that there's a potential downside here too. Sometimes bagged produce weighs less than the stated amount, so weighing prevents you from being slightly shortchanged. However, don't blame the grocer. When the produce arrived at the store, it was already packaged.

I'm an equal opportunity shopper and I harbor no bias against or prejudice toward any fruit or vegetable (except peas). That being said, all produce is not created equal.

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