Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Help Save The World, Eat An Ugly Fruit.

During my dazed drive to work from the gym, I was partially listening to a story on NPR regarding farms in Florida dealing with an unexpected winter frost.  The story was a generic report about farmer issues with maintaining the health of the crops – which is a similar issue that Napa farmers seem to deal with every other year.  I was entirely tuning out the radio until the narrator’s semantic selection caught my attention.  For some reason, he chose the word “cosmetic” in reference to maintaining the quality of the fruit.  And, for some other reason, I couldn’t help but digress upon whether or not the narrator really made a mistake. 

One of the few things that most consumers seem to overlook is the basic idea of fruit/vegetable cosmetics.  Much like how we judge other people, we normally seem to associate exterior appearance with interior quality.  And, fittingly, much like how we discover other people, we realize quickly that a pretty fruit can actually turn out to be an evil bitch - ahem, which is to say it can taste bad. 

Basically, if you are clueless in learning how to determine whether a certain fruit is ripe, fresh or sweet – then, you are obviously more inclined to pick pretty fruit.  And because, farmers and distributors know we are senselessly prejudiced and dense human beings (for the most part), they decide that they must make fruit to look pretty to appeal to our desires.  But to make fruit look pretty, they must perform cosmetic manipulation – chemical tummy tucks and boob jobs for produce if you must.  As a result of this cosmetic manipulation, your food is now more harmful to you, costs more to you, tastes worse, and might become a dirty whore that cheats on you when she says she’s going to have a girl’s night out but really is meeting up with an orange muscled dude who wears like a size 15 shoe but has a tiny package because he got screwed for juicing.  You know, shitty.

Nothing I just wrote should be a surprise to you.  The important lesson is to really learn how to pick produce (ask someone!) and don’t rely on the shiny wax coated stuff at the supermarket.  Just think, when you pick the ugly fruit from a market stand, you are doing yourself and the world a great justice.  You know, it’s fun, like taking the ugly girl home for a party.  (That quote is from a show or a movie, by the way, I am in total support of inner beauty.)    


  1. I agree with you, but I also think that this should be the responsibility of the grocer. Now I know that in Suburbia this might not work, but in the cities, and where I live (Berkeley) we're already inclined to trust smaller and trusted grocers (we shop exclusively at Berkeley Bowl). If our most trusted grocer says "eat this fruit even though it's ugly, I promise it's delicious" then I'm 100% sure the people in my neighborhood would, for the reasons you supplied above. It's not that we won't eat it, it's that we don't even have access to ugly fruit. If you're selling a product, you should have already determined which products are best, ripe, juicy, etc. I guess what I'm saying is that someone that sells chairs isn't allowed to sell a broken chair, or a chair with one stubby leg---so why should grocers be able to sell less-than-ripe produce? They are the experts, and they should do the selecting. Consumers should be aware as well (my mom taught me which fruits to smell, which fruits to press on, how to select veggies, NOT TO BUY HOT HOUSE TOMATOES (bland) ;) ) but I honestly think that it shouln't necessarily be something that you HAVE to know. It should be the grocer's job.

  2. I'm with you on that, I didn't highlight the politics further but the grocer does have a responsibility. Part of the reality of the situation is just a basic lack of knowledge by a big part of the population (obviously does not extend as much to the majority of the residents of Berkeley who are food and food politics savvy). And, the problem is truly from top down to bottom, from careless consumers to farmers (who grow these cosmetic veggies and spray the chemicals) to distributors (who tell farmers what kind of veggies they want) to grocers (who think the public doesn't know/want better). It's a tough cycle to break. But, I wrote the blog for the perspective of the common shopper. One mind/person at a time... baby steps.