BELL PEPPER | How Does it Grow?


Here’s a tale of two peppers: the green
one costs half the price of the red, but here’s the thing: they’re the same
peppers – seriously! So why are you paying double for red? To answer that, we have to answer this: Pepper – How Does It Grow? Now, all peppers start out green – at this
stage, they’re mature but not yet ripe. It’s like a green tomato before it turns
red. Its sugars aren’t fully developed. The red, yellow, and orange bell peppers
you buy in the store are all different varieties that have been bred to fully
ripen at those colors. Bell peppers are great sources of vitamins A, B6 and C. But
yellow peppers pack about three times more vitamin C than Reds. In this episode, I’m following the story
of the red bell pepper. It takes three to four weeks, for a pepper to go from green to chocolate color to finally red. Each week, caring for it gets riskier. Translation: more expensive… See, red peppers are super sensitive to extremes – like a sudden heavy rain, or a sharp temperature dip. That’s why most are grown in warm climates, like California or Florida. New Jersey is a top producing
state for green peppers. In South Jersey, there’s one farmer left growing Reds in open fields – that’s Bob Muth, a legend among farmers. His secret is in the soil. Bob nourishes
the land for three years before planting peppers or any crop on that plot. How does he do this? For starters, he uses leaf compost in place of chemical
fertilizer. Nicole: So this is just…just leaves from people’s backyard…? (Bob): Yep. (Nicole): Oh it’s so warm… As the leaves break down, they add rich organic matter to the soil. This supplies vital nutrients to Bob’s crops. (Bob): You have to be in it – not for the here and now – you have to think longer term, and the next generation… Many farmers are fertilizing
the crop daily or weekly, through the irrigation system. And it’s almost as if
the crop is treated like a junkie on cocaine. We’re letting the soil feed the crop. You want to leave the land in better condition that when you took it on. When the soil is ready, Bob transplants the seedlings he’s grown in the greenhouse. Yes – it all starts from those
tiny seeds inside your pepper. When the plants are mature enough, they flower – and those flowers are pollinated simply by the wind. As the fruit begins to grow, Bob stakes the plants to keep them off the ground. And he stays vigilant for
fungus and insects that could easily wipe out his crop. A crack as tiny as this could let rain seep in and bacteria grow, quickly causing the pepper to rot. But it’s about way more than just keeping these peppers alive. Bob has to
satisfy our demand for cosmetically ‘perfect’ peppers. (Bob): This is one that was jammed in tight, and it’s misshapen. You couldn’t put that in on the grocery
store shelf… (Nicole): That’s a beautiful pepper (Bob): It’s not the perfect shape…This is cosmetically perfect…it’s a number one…this one is not… (Bob): More often than not, it ends up getting disposed back on the ground. Consumers would be surprised by the amount of waste or sort-outs that you have…and not only in pepper, but in all crops. When the peppers are 80% red, harvesters
carefully break the stems by hand. The peppers will finish coloring by the time they hit store shelves, a couple days later. This harvest crew spends hours with their backs bent over the peppers. When they’re done, they move with impressive speed and unison to gather all the buckets. This, is the very definition of teamwork. Any peppers that are misshapen, go to processors who cut them up. Bob earns seven times less for these still perfectly delicious peppers. As winter moves in, the late season harvest is usually Bob’s best. He says a touch of cold weather actually sweetens his crop, and since we now know that most of America’s red peppers are grown in
warm climates, that means these peppers just might be the country’s sweetest. Wait – have you subscribed yet? Don’t leave until you subscribe – click that button! Is it here? Is it here? Or is it here? Click
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