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I came across the word, “the produce aisle” for the first time in NPR’s news introducing 'Eating on the Wild Side – A field guide to nutritious food,” writen by Jo Robinson. It goes:

“Our modern fruits, grains and vegetables aren't nearly as nutrition-packed as their wild counterparts were thousands of years ago, says health writer Jo Robinson. Her new book offers advice on how to shop the produce aisle to select for foods that offer the best nutritional bang for the bite.”

None of Cambridge, Oxford, and Merriam-Webster online English dictionary registers- “produce aisle.” But Google Ngram indicates that the word emerged in / around 1960 and its usage is on a sharp rise.

What does ‘produce aisle” specifically mean? Why has it come current? Isn’t it simply an in-store aisle?

Why is it ‘produce” aisle, not “product / merchandise aisle?

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    Note: it's pronounced /'produs/, with stress on the first syllable, in the typical English pattern of noun - verb alternation: ADdress, PROduce (n) ~ adDRESS, proDUCE (v). PROduce is what farms proDUCE. – John Lawler Jul 14 '13 at 13:40
  • See etymonline – Mitch Jul 14 '13 at 16:20
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Produce here refers to “fresh fruits and vegetables”. It’s the noun version of that word, not the verb, and so its stress falls on the first syllable.

Therefore the produce aisle is the place where such things are found. Before the supermarket, it’s the sort of thing you’d find at your greengrocer, if you were so fortunate as to have one.

Note

The produce aisle is usually rather different from other aisles in a supermarket or grocery store. It is usually wide and runs along the wall: the right-hand wall in right-hand–drive countries and the left-hand wall in clockwise or left-hand–drive ones. That way it’s where you first turn to as soon as you walk into the supermarket. It needs larger bins for the produce, and often has misters or cold frames, and not uncommonly, islands and other free-standing displays as well.

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    With the convention (not always true) that there is one aisle in the store with those items. – GEdgar Jul 14 '13 at 13:42
  • I think it's worth mentioning that this is probably a synecdoche in this context. – Samuel Edwin Ward Jul 14 '13 at 19:21
  • Is it mere coincidence that all the posts you have recently edited, all contain an answer by you? Thirty-five so far. 35! EDIT: I've lost count now. – Mari-Lou A Apr 11 '15 at 1:19
  • @Mari-LouA Repseeking? (NOT) :) – tchrist Apr 11 '15 at 1:19
  • So SWR have to be tagged word-choice? BTW I know you don't need the points, and you don't care about them but... still, why not retag questions that contain FumbleFingers', or Robusto's answers? – Mari-Lou A Apr 11 '15 at 1:26

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