Monday, December 1, 2008

Ugly produce gets rights

Today, I went grocery shopping. Some days, it's filled with anxiety, unsure of what to actually buy. Other days I feel "interested" in everything, deciphering every piece of fruit and vegetable, looking at new products, and thinking about trying foods once avoided at the cost of calories. At times, I even become inspired and decide to gear myself up for a challenge in new foods. I think my last major challenge attempt which I posted about was avocados.

I ran across this article today about the lifting of restrictions for produce in the EU. Apparently, not all produce is considered equal, and there is an actual list of strict requirements before placing the produce out for sale. Several bans include:

Green asparagus that is not green for 80% or more of its length

Cucumbers that bend by a curve of more than 10 mm per 10 cm
Cauliflower less than 11 cm in diameter
Forked carrots
Bananas malformed or having abnormal curvature though Class 1 bananas can have “slight defects of shape,” and Class 2 bananas can have full “defects of shape” (from NY Times)

I'm thinking geez, who has time to measure every single piece of produce or determine a percentage of color? That just seems absurd, especially since a good percentage of produce is wasted simply, because it is not "pretty" enough.

It's good that some of these restrictions are being lifted, although
apples, kiwis, strawberries, lettuce, peaches, nectarines, pears, table grapes, sweet peppers and tomatoes still need to be attractive.

It's funny, but this type of thing reminds me of something like from a Disney animated cartoon where all the produce characters could talk. I'm wanting to know if the produce could actually express their own feelings, what they would really say? Would the pretty or ugly produce be happy to be chosen? Would they not want to be chosen, knowing they were going to be consumed?

This is obviously lame, and I'm sooo anthropomorphizing. I
really need to go to bed.

So I leave you with the question of how do you choose produce? Do you go for the clean cut, unblemished, unbruised type, the rugged type, or simply don't consider it at all?
Personally, it depends, but I mostly go for the clean cut type, although a few blemishes are okay. After all, it's not fair to leave out all the ugly produce which just mind end up as the best tasting! Remember, we can't judge solely by the outside what is actually inside.


Anonymous said...

OMG i am a forked carrot :)
All vegetables are equal, but some are more equal than others!!!
I feel bad for the unperfect ones now

Lola x

Gaining Back My Life said...

I would love to say tht you can't judge a book by its' cover, however when I pick out my produce, what do I look for? Unbruised, symmetrical, shiny, firm, and choice items.

Bananas are another story. I only use the for banana bread, so the worse for the wear, the better!

Tiptoe said...

Lola, I bet forked carrots are just awesome! I do think it is likely the imperfect produce is chosen much less than the others.

GBML, it is likely many of us choose the "best" looking produce, although I have become less in the "shiny" dept., as I have heard that just means more pesticides are sprayed. I normally go all natural/organic anyway with produce which has pesticides.

You're right that matured/very ripe bananas are best for banana bread.

Cammy said...

I have never looked at produce the same way since my evolution professor pointed out the issue about the shiniest apples being the ones that were too toxic for pests to get to...

The only fruits that I liked to be "aged" and soft are bananas and peaches, I CANNOT stand unripe bananas, they have to have plenty of brown on the outside or else it just doesn't taste like a banana. My mom eats them almost green, so when I lived with her I would stash them in all kinds of creative places in the kitchen so that they wouldn't get eaten before they were ripe enough for me. ;)

Kim said...

Haha, I love this post. Hm, I tend to go for the clean-cut apples, though now I'm rethinking that decision based on Cammy's comment. I like my bananas a little ripe and worn. Somewhere in the midst of recovery, I've discovered that, much like a 5-year-old, I hate most vegetables. Weird.

Anonymous said...

I work in agriculture and loads of food gets wasted all the time, just allowed to rot, because it's "unacceptable to consumers". So I think it's really cool you're questioning that. There's nothing wrong with a forked carrot! I kinda like imperfect veggies, hopefully that means they let nature do its thing instead of spraying as many chemicals :)


Tiptoe said...

It looks like there is a consensus with choosing bananas that are a little "aged." Actually though, I tend to choose ones with some green on them, but only so that do not get ugly brown before I eat them. Even eating one a day, it's hard for them not to get too mushy. I may have to start putting them in the fridge.

Anyway, Cammy, I agree with you about the apples. I had remembered you mentioning it as well as reading it somewhere, and so now I'm all organic for apples.

Kim, interesting you learned you hated vegetables, though good too. Sometimes, it's good to find what your taste buds are actually telling you versus your head.

Sara, you're so right about food getting wasted. In high school and college, I worked in a bakery and a restaurant and I was always amazed at how much food got thrown out.

Yeah, those imperfect veggies have some character. ;-)