Poke, Prod, Measure and Test

The European Union really seems to have a problem with the natural variations of fruits and vegetables. Actually, they did recently relax the rules somewhat, but they still have amazing rules and regulations over the specific size, shape and color of produce that is sold at retail stores.

Some say the reason it's gotten so ridiculous is that you can't touch produce in the shops so someone has to do something to rate them. But hardly any of these regulations have anything to do with whether the produce is edible and nutritional.

Here's an example for apples in Class I and the slight defects allowed:

slight skin defects which must not extend over more than:
- 2 cm in length for defects of elongated shape
- 1 cm² of total surface area for other defects, with the exception of scab Venturia inaequalis), which must not extend over more than 0.25 cm² cumulative in area
- slight bruising not exceeding 1 cm² in area and not discoloured.

And here's one for onions and their sizing for Class I:

Size is determined by the maximum diameter of the equatorial section. The difference between the diameters of the smallest and largest onions in the same package must not exceed:
- 5 mm where the diameter of the smallest onion is 10 mm and over but under 20 mm. However, where the diameter of the onion is 15 mm and over but under 25 mm, the difference may be 10 mm.

And one more example, cucumbers:

- reasonably well shaped and practically straight (maximum height of the arc: 10 mm per 10 cm of length of cucumber).

So as we can see, they poke, prod, analyze, measure and test, in order to rate quality purely by numbers, always looking for conformity and standardization, giving little consideration to the true value of the produce and individual uniqueness.

Boy, I'm sure glad we don't treat the education of kids that way. Wouldn't that be a rotten thing to do?

1 comment:

SuchSmallHands said...

A lot of it is to do with transportation.

for example if a cucumber is bent it will take up more space, the trucks will carry less and the cost of fuel per cucumber carried will rise, multiply this by several hundred million miles for the average cucumber sold in the EU and you get a significantly higher fuel (and hence pollution) cost per cucumber.

however you are quite right about taste, one typical example is carrots, old fashioned carrots were kind of wedge shapped, wider at the top than at the tip.
modern carrots are straight edged, they do not tapper. however the cultivars that produce such carrots are tasteless. but, if you are willing to pay for them, and by that I mean by a factor of about 10 times the cost, you can buy "speciality" carrots of traditional cultivars that taste at least as good as I remember them as a child - and yes these are very tapered (about 1 inch at the top to a sharp tip and rarely more than 2.5 inches long.)