Slouching Toward Mediocrity
June 25, 2010 10:28 AM Subscribe
Let the best fruit win, and when it does, we'll know how to ask for it.
posted by VikingSword (137 comments total)
37 users marked this as a favorite
'The European Community requires that grapes, oranges, apples and pears be identified by variety at the point of sale, and the practice is common there for other fruits too.' 'Until 2006, the California Tree Fruit Agreement, the organization that sets standards for the state's shippers of peaches, nectarines and plums, required the specific variety to be identified on the carton. But some growers and shippers found that they could not readily market certain varieties perceived by buyers as inferior, and so the CTFA now allows fruit to be shipped under generic designations such as "yellow peach."''When inferior varieties are marketed generically, producers of inferior varieties piggyback on producers of better varieties. In a pomological version of Gresham's law, bad fruit drives out good.''All too often today, new varieties are bred to appeal to the lowest common denominator, to be inoffensive to the greatest number of people, so it suits the industrial distribution system when fruit is marketed anonymously. When fruit quality is homogenized, variety is less significant; in turn, anonymity deprives consumers of their main weapon to resist homogenization.'
'There are 230 varieties of peaches grown in California
, freestone and clingstone, heirloom and newly developed, flavorful and bland, but when you go to the grocery store and even many farmers markets, they're usually sold just as "peaches."''The identification of a fruit's variety is the single most important piece of information consumers have in deciding what it will taste like and whether to buy, but the era in which consumers could look for distinctive varieties by name — Fantasia nectarine, O'Henry peach, Santa Rosa plum — is rapidly passing.'
'There was a time when many of the stone fruit varieties grown around the nation had long lives and distinctive identities. In recent decades, however, the interval between stone fruit variety generations has contracted to just 20 years, or even 10, after which growers replace their trees with newer varieties. Plus, supermarket produce managers, who now mostly have little in-depth knowledge of fruit, don't want to be bothered segregating batches by name.'