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knobbly vegetables at an open air market
Well hooray!!  News just in that the EU (about which I am generally positive so don’t start getting the wrong idea) in its wisdom is proposing to relax its rules governing the marketing of fruit and vegetables, so the less than ideally dimensioned may once more get a look in on the supermarket shelf.

In fact, the restrictive rules apply to produce being classified as Class One grade, i.e. perfectly uniform, which is what the major supermarkets insist on having.  Farm shops, markets and discount supermarkets, plus the “cheapo” and “for cooks” ranges at the majors already sell the so-called second rate stuff so it’s hardly a revolution in the making.

As far as I can tell it’s just about size and appearance and not actual eating quality.  So while they’re thinking about change could they please think about implementing ripeness standards (or realistic potential for ripeness standards)?  These are every bit as important when it comes to fruit quality.  How many punnets-worth (hmm – why are they so often BOGOFs, I wonder) of rock-hard peaches (stone fruit indeed) and tomatoes rotted on me before I realised the wretched things would never ripen?  Too many, so now I don’t buy them unless I can smell their fragrance.

Strangely enough, Agriculture Commissioner Mariann Fischer Boel is facing substantial opposition from member states, so don’t hold your breath.

Minimum “standards” will be retained for the following:

  • apples
  • citrus fruit
  • kiwi fruit
  • lettuces and endives
  • peaches
  • pears
  • strawberries
  • sweet peppers
  • table grapes
  • tomatoes

With aviation costs soaring our fruit may be in for a bright future: maybe, just maybe, produce that doesn’t thrive locally will be shipped instead of flown in.  The chill of an airfreight hold destroys enzymes, killing off all potential for ripening.  Now I’m no chemist but I can taste and smell the difference.

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