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Greenhouse Grocer

Greenhouse for Produce at Grocer
  [vote for,

I love fresh produce.

But what gets sold at grocery stores isn't, technically, fresh. It is stuff that is shipped on trucks from across the country. Produce is picked early and "truck-ripened." The varieties available are those that have been selected for appearance and shelf-life, not for their culinary or nutritional quantities.

Yet the produce section at the grocery stores around here are huge, which is surprising since produce is a low-profit item. The same grocery stores will put up huge temporary greenhouses in their parking lots to sell young plants, including produce plants.

I should think there would be a unique opportunity for a grocer to have a full-time year-round greenhouse. Grow all of the produce in 4' x 4' carts on wheels (the Square Foot Gardening guy showed that only 6" deep soil/humus/whathaveyou is needed for most garden plants). When something is ripe wheel in one cart to the grocery store. When it is picked empty, wheel it out and wheel in a full one.

With a year-round greenhouse, we can have fresh melons in the middle of winter. And charge more for them, of course.

Ever had celery that is truly garden-fresh? It's incredibly powerfully flavorful. Same holds for many foods.

Want to have green tomatos? Ask and ye shall recieve. (Green tomatos are excellent when oven-roasted with olive oil).

If the broccoli flowers out before it's all purchased, sell the flowers as fancy garnish (certainly prettier than parseley).

And all of the wasted produce can be composted, in-house, for later use.

I know, most cities have "farmers markets." But people don't buy from them because they aren't at the grocery store. So this effectively puts the farmer in the store.

quarterbaker, Aug 05 2004

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       +1 cooking on gas...is that you?
po, Aug 05 2004

       Some of the substances that pass as a grocery store "tomato" really shouldn't - real tomatos have flavor. This solution would likely be a bit pricy, but I'd pay it.
Worldgineer, Aug 05 2004

       [quarterbaker] I love the idea, I think it's great. However, one of your premises is distinctly false. Fresh produce is NOT a low profit item. It is a BIG profit item, as long as you can control the stock loss (i.e. how much you have to throw away or mark down because it has reached it's sell by date). And it is a BIG revenue and footfall generator.
p.s. I work for a major supermarket in case you were wondering...
goff, Aug 06 2004

       Yes, this would be very expensive. How would one go about chosing a carrot or potato? If I didn't like the one I'd picked, could I stuff it back?
phoenix, Aug 06 2004

       Consider the amount of space and variety of conditions required to grow the volume of produce sold from a grocery store. There would be no parking lot remaining.   

       I suppose there would be some call for this really fresh, if also really expensive produce.   

In most grocery stores there is a considerable amount of unsused space between the top of the shelves and the ceilings. Perhaps mini-greenhouses could be built up there and tended to (and shopped?) from a series of catwalks. But, plants need light: replace the zillions of fluorescent tubes present in most stores with grow lights. But, the greenhouses wouldn't get warm without the sun: there are generally plenty of refrigeration systems in a grocery store pumping out gobs of waste heat.

       Then there is the space on the roof...   

       ...just rambling again...don't mind me...
half, Aug 06 2004

       I wish they set it up so people would park under the store, take the freight size elevator up to the displays which would be stocked (produce anyway) from the greenhouse on the roof as [half] mentioned.
Zimmy, Apr 17 2005


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