© 2022 Cincinnati Public Radio
purple_waveback6.png
Connecting You to a World of Ideas
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00
0:00
Available On Air Stations

Local Farmer Creates Eco-Friendly Packaging For Fruits And Vegetables

IMG_3511.JPG
Ann Thompson
/
WVXU
Farmer Linda Fritz sorts her cherry tomatoes before putting them in the biodegradable cardboard boxes she developed.

Kroger, Clifton Market and other grocery stores are taking a closer look at biodegradable packaging for fruits and vegetables, thanks in part to the efforts of farmers like Linda Fritz, who refuse to put their products in so-called plastic clam shells.

For Fritz and her Sun Sugar Farms in Verona, Ky., it's a matter of priciple. Why grow sustainable crops and then put them in containers that aren't recyclable? Billing herself as an eco-warrior, Fritz is marketing her food-safe cardboard containers to other farmers and stores across the country.

So far, reaction has been good. Fritz says when she takes her tomatoes to grocery stores she sometimes demonstrates the packaging. "I'll be like, 'Hey, I'm the farmer. Here's my tomatoes. If you want to try some they're in this new sustainable package.' And I've had some people be like, 'Sold! I don't even have to try the tomatoes,' and then another lady went, 'I hope you replace all the plastic clam shells.'"

IMG_3500.JPG
Credit Ann Thompson / WVXU
/
WVXU
Fritz says she has customers as far away as the State of Washington. Her cutouts include nature's elements like the sun, wind and earth worms.

Clifton Market Produce Manager Chris Payne echos those comments, saying customer reaction has been positive. He remembers one woman's reaction in particular: "She didn't want to use the clam shells and remembered we had (Linda's boxes)," he recalls. "And she'll be buying those from now on."

But when it comes to expanding the number of fruits and vegetables in biodegradable packaging, Payne says cost is a consideration.

Fritz says her containers do cost more. She estimates a quart box would be about 5 or 6 cents more than the 24 cents it costs for a plastic clam shell. But Fritz points out the shipping cost is less because the boxes are sold flat.

IMG_3528.JPG
Credit Ann Thompson / WVXU
/
WVXU
Sun Sugar Farms' cherry tomatoes (in boxes) on display at Clifton Market.

With more than 30 years of journalism experience in the Greater Cincinnati market, Ann Thompson brings a wealth of knowledge and expertise to her reporting. She has reported for WKRC, WCKY, WHIO-TV, Metro Networks and CBS/ABC Radio. Her work has been recognized by the Associated Press and the Society of Professional Journalists. In 2019 and 2011 A-P named her “Best Reporter” for large market radio in Ohio. She has won awards from the Association of Women in Communications and the Alliance for Women in Media. Ann reports regularly on science and technology in Focus on Technology.