Have we become too fussy about fruit and vegetables?
A farmer in Australia has had to leave hundreds of tonnes of mandarins to rot on the ground as a result of blemishes.
Farmer Ken Roth has also had to pay workers to strip the trees of the fruit as leaving it on the trees stresses them.
While the fruit isn’t wasted as such – it returns to the earth – aside from it being rather expensive fertiliser, there’s all the resources that went into growing it.
I’d be the first to admit I used to skip over a blemished piece of fruit or veg for a “perfect” piece when shopping – but much of that was due to ignorance; I didn’t know if the blemish I saw reflected on the eating quality of the produce.
There’s been a campaign in Australia to get folks to buy slightly damaged fruit and it’s great to see as it educates us all. The flood issue aside, I’ve read so many stories of farmers having to dump huge quantities of produce or receive a pittance, just because of small imperfections.
Our search for perfection (instilled in us by supermarkets) comes at a huge cost environmentally speaking. If we accepted the odd blemish, it would result in a reduction in chemical use and improve availability.
These days I get my fruit and veg via the local general store, which sources the produce from nearby markets. I have a standing order and pick it up once a week. I don’t get to pick and choose individual pieces – I get what I am given, and that includes pieces that have the occasional blemish, or a lettuce with a bit of soil still on it and the occasional bug or two.
I know that in a good season, the items will be perfect. In not so good times, the quality can drop; but I wouldn’t have it any other way. Aside from the warm and fuzzies of supporting local growers and the local store; the nature of the produce helps connect me to my food just a little more – just like the feathers I sometimes find on the locally produced eggs I buy :).