I am naturally a very skeptical person around food and products for cooking and storing it, especially when it comes to products making vague claims (like “clean”), and especially when it comes to a product with a gimmicky “as seen on TV”-style package and name like this one.
But Debbie Meyer GreenBags do actually deliver on their promise to keep fruits and vegetables fresh longer. I’m here to admit that I was wrong and that I have my mom to thank for changing my mind.
They keep lettuce crisp at least a week longer than the refrigerator veggie drawer or plain plastic bag, our carrots and celery stay crunchy for a month or more, and stone fruits and avocados don’t turn instantly soft in the fridge.
Debbie Meyer GreenBags 32-Pack
Keeps produce fresher significantly longer
Doesn't prevent mold growth
Needs to be washed and dried thoroughly before reuse
Here’s the backstory: My wife and I enrolled in a CSA that gets us an amazing box of local produce every other week—but it’s a bit too much for two people to eat before things start to go bad. My parents came to visit, Mom noticed our limp carrots and mushy blackberries, and she told me about these things and how they work for her. I looked at the package and assumed they were complete B.S., but Mom ordered me a box anyway.
To my chagrin (and then delight), the bags work! They keep lettuce crisp at least a week longer than the refrigerator veggie drawer or plain plastic bag, our carrots and celery stay crunchy for a month or more, and stone fruits and avocados don’t turn instantly soft in the fridge. They’re not magic—we’ve had some items get mushy and moldy in the bags—but they absolutely do extend the shelf life of all sorts of fruits and vegetables.
So what’s the secret to Debbie Meyer GreenBags? It requires a quick (but useful, I promise!) lesson in biochemistry: A gas called ethylene is a hormone for plants, triggering them to devote energy to reproduction and making fruits and seeds ripen. It also makes plants cut energy to non-fruit parts, readying leaves to fall off in the autumn and causing vegetables to wilt and turn yellow.
Many fruits continue to produce ethylene after picking. Y’know that trick of ripening tomatoes, avocados, or other fruits more quickly by placing them in a bag with a banana? That works because bananas put off a lot of ethylene. GreenBags and other similar products contain a mineral that absorbs ethylene, so they do the exact opposite of the banana trick, slowing down the ripening and en-wilt-ening process. (The bags will keep bananas themselves from going brown as quickly, too.)
The brand says you can reuse them eight to 10 times; I’ve used some at least twice as much as that before replacing.
Unfortunately, absorbing ethylene only prevents one reason produce might go bad. You need to make sure anything you pack in a GreenBag is fairly dry, as moisture trapped in any plastic bag can grow mold. I learned this lesson the hard way when I went to grab the fresh dill I planned to use for a sauce with some tilapia, only to find slime. It had only been in the fridge for a couple days, but it went into the bag pretty damp.
GreenBags aren’t terribly useful once you’ve cut up your produce, either; cut fruits and veggies get brown because of oxygen, not ethylene. They also won’t do anything special for meat, bread, or leftovers—ethylene only works on raw fruits and veggies.
Debbie Meyer GreenBags are available in three different sizes, in assortments from 10 to 40 bags, all priced at well under a buck a bag. The brand says you can reuse them eight to 10 times; I’ve used some at least twice as much as that before replacing. (I do rinse and let dry completely between uses.) That makes them at least as good a value as one-use, non-freshness-extending zip-top bags. Debbie also makes GreenBoxes, lidded plastic containers in various sizes. I haven’t used them yet, but I assume they use the same technology and perform equally well.
Anyway, thanks, Mom.
Available sizes: Medium (0.5 gallons, 15 x 6 x 4 inches), large (1 gallon, 17 x 7 x 5 inches), extra large (1.5 gallons, 12 x 9 x 6.5 inches)
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Jason Horn is a commerce writer for The Spruce Eats and has been writing about food and drinks for more than 15 years. He's a former staff member at Cooking Light at Liquor.com and has written for publications from Playboy to HGTV.com. He regrets all the wasted spoiled produce he could have saved if he'd only listened to his mom and bought some GreenBags earlier.