We chatted with our farm friends at Bowery about how to find the “chosen ones” when you’re looking to pick-up some produce.

Bowery is the modern farming company growing food for a better future by revolutionizing agriculture. They grow non GMO, leafy greens and herbs out of two indoor farms in the NYC-area. Because they control the entire process from seed to store, Bowery farms use zero pesticides, 95% less water, and are 100+ times more productive on the same footprint of land than traditional agriculture. Pretty cool, right?

We chatted with their team about how Bowery came to be, and how to find the “chosen ones” when you’re looking to pick-up some produce.

Avoid googling ‘home tips on ripening an avocado’ and learn how to shop smart when you’re in need of some fresh foods.

So how did the Bowery founders dream up this modern farm to fridge idea?

Okay, stay with us, but the Bowery vision sprouted from some serious facts and figures:

Agriculture sits at the epicenter of so many global issues today. Over 70% of our global water supply goes to agriculture, and the EPA reports that over 1 billion tons of pesticides are used in the US every year (80% of which are for agricultural use). It’s also been cited that industrial farming practices have caused a loss of over 30% of the arable farmland in the last 40 years.

With these issues, our global population is projected to grow to more than 9 billion people by 2050, and according to the UN this means we’ll need 50-70% more food to feed the population.

Okay, you got through it! Phew - now for the positive:

The Bowery co-founders became obsessed with the question of how to provide fresh food more efficiently and sustainably to urbanized areas. They saw a promising trend in the reduction in costs of LED lighting that would make indoor farming more accessible, and use significantly less space and resources than traditional agriculture. So, they built our first farm, and Bowery was born. 🌱

Got it, so when you say you’re an indoor farm - what does that mean? Are you like a greenhouse?

Now exactly, but similar since we’re both indoors. Bowery is a vertical farm. This means we grow produce in a controlled indoor environment with vertical rows under LED lights that mimic the spectrum of the sun!

What’s the biggest misconception people have about picking out produce at the grocery store?

Most people’s weekly grocery list includes a lettuce of some kind. And as you peruse the beautiful bunches of kale, chard, and even pre-packaged salad mixes, there’s the assumption that you can just go home and toss it up.

We don’t want to sound like your mom, but you missed a step. Washing! Washing produce isn’t just about getting any dirt that may remain, but it removes most of the pesticides and can reduce – but not eliminate – bacteria that may be present.

Practically every vegetable in the grocery store has been treated with pesticides.

Yes, even certified organic produce is grown using organic pesticides, which just means they are derived from natural sources. Because Bowery grows in a completely controlled, indoor environment, we do not use any pesticides at all. While pesticides are a hot topic, the more dangerous problem with salads is actually the bacteria. This summer, more than 200 people got ill across the U.S. because of E. coli O157:H7 linked to romaine lettuce grown in Arizona.

If my greens say “pre-washed” are they actually good to go? What’s the quality control standard on that?

Not exactly! It’s speculated that many pre-washed salad greens contain harmful chemicals (eek!).

Here's what we recommend. Choose pre-washed lettuces and other vegetables from sources that have high food safety standards and certifications. Bowery Farming is Safe Quality Food certified, which means we have rigorous food safety standards. Every person that enters our indoor farm must wear sterile protective clothing and go through sanitation checks.

We grow all of our produce in controlled-environment indoor farms using a hydroponic growing system that recycles water and promotes sustainability. Since all produce is grown in closed space that minimizes opportunities for contamination (and uses zero pesticides), we don’t even need to wash produce before it’s harvested.

WTF is the Dirty Dozen and do I need to avoid eating it?

The Dirty Dozen is an annual list released by the Environmental Working Group (EWG) that shares the “dirtiest” and “cleanest” fruits and vegetables available to U.S. consumers. It’s interesting if you want to learn about items with most pesticide residues, but again, if you’re a savvy shopper and buying your produce from sources with high food safety standards and certifications, you shouldn't be worried!

If it’s in the Clean Fifteen, do I really need to purchase organic?

The Clean Fifteen is the list from EWG that features produce items that tend to have the least pesticide residues.

Again, even most certified organic produce is grown using organic pesticides, it just means they are derived from natural sources. We recommend considering food safety safety standards and certifications from sources.

What are your top 3 tips on storing produce in your kitchen?

There are so many great guides out there on this topic, but our favorite comes from Real Simple. When it comes to your packaged greens, our packaging was designed to reduce spoilage and minimize food waste because it allows for maximum airflow to maintain shelf-life. So, we’d recommend keeping your greens in the packaging! Also, our clamshell is produced from recycled post-consumer content, and after you’re done with those greens it’s still 100% recyclable. 🌱

It doesn’t get more local than growing in your own backyard… What are 3 things I should never do if I decide to grow my own fruits and veggies at home?

This biggest feedback we’ve heard from our agricultural scientists: don’t get too eager at first!

It is very tempting to go out and buy all the fruits and veggies, but start small.

Do research on the plant’s lighting needs, and become an expert in one field first.

All this talk about produce has us hangry…. What’s a quick and healthy recipe I can make tonight?

Kale and escarole aren’t the only greens you should be wilting in your favorite soups this fall! We’re obsessed with adding Bowery’s spicy, mature arugula to recipes, like our Spicy Poblano, Butternut, and Arugula Soup.

Last, but not least, what's your favorite Dang snack?

 I'm a classic Dang Coconut Chip fangirl. They're great on their own, but also add that perfect element of surprise when added to a smoothie or salad.

What's your #1 tip on produce? We'd love to hear from you in the comments!