HELPFUL DEFINITIONS OF FRESH


15-20 Days Is Fresher Than 180

Greenline Foods of Perrysburg Ohio usually gets its beans right. It told me its beans are harvested ready to eat, quickly processed (within 24 hours), “trimmed and washed” and bagged into one and two pound bags. Two words on the front of the package promise

FRESH GREEN BEANS

And usually they are. But not this week.

The problem starts when the bagged beans are trucked off to supermarket hub centers hundreds of miles away. After delivery, time passes before the beans are sent to a supermarket near you. Greenline says its definition of FRESH is within 15-20 days after being picked. But it loses control once the beans start their journey.

Still, in the fresh game, Greenline beats Dole Foods Idaho potatoes. They are harvested in October, “stored scientifically” and, roughly 180 days later, shipped in bags whose labels say “fresh picked.” I guess that means fresh picked is not the same as fresh. The beans may have been fresher than the Fresh Lamb Rib Chops and Fresh Sword Fish I also bought. The fish was from nearby Scotland and the meat from slightly less nearby New Zealand—neither as close as Ohio. But let that go: For fresh fish and meat, I prefer the illusion to any details.

But I digress. The beans might have started out Fresh but, despite a Best If Used By JUL 19 notice on the bag, on July 11 the beans looked like Used Beans rather than Fresh Beans. It’s OK: Greenline Foods is sending me coupons for two more bags of beans and my bag is on our special Returns Shelf awaiting the cash refund ritual. I’ll get my usual three times the initial cost, or 300% ROIFI (Return On Initial Food Investment, as they say at the Stanford Business School).

What does fresh officially mean? The USDA avoids a definition, leaving it to the agriculture industry’s lobbyists who are for subsidies but opposed to definitions.

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