Produce Isn’t What It Used to Be

You go to the grocery store and buy a crisp, fresh, in-season apple. It’s shiny and it looks delicious. You know it’s going to have a mouth watering crunch when you bite into it. If it’s a Granny Smith and nice and tart, this to me is a perfect apple. Or is it?Our modern agriculture system has drastically changed the produce that we buy and eat. I’m not talking about how much chemical is sprayed or the fertilizers used. Sure food isn’t as nutritious as it used to be because farmland soil has been completely wrecked. But that’s not what I’m talking about.

What I’m taking about is how produce varieties are selected for planting. To understand this selection process, you have to know a little about our food system. I’m not talking about local farms. I’m talking about our general agrifarm setup. The one that supplies most of the produce to our grocery stores.

Produce is grown on massive monocrop farms. This produce is picked well before it’s ripe. If it were picked ripe, it’d never survive the processing time, the trip to the grocery store, and the time on the grocery store shelves. So after it’s picked it has to be processed. Once it’s processed it has to be packed. Finally it has to be shipped. Then at last it has to be stocked on the grocery store shelves.

So… that’s the primary concern when selecting which variety of produce to plant. What variety will make it into the grocery stores without rotting. Produce isn’t selected for nutritional value first. Taste isn’t even the first criteria. It far more important the produce survives the trip.

If you get the chance, buy some local, fresh produce from some older varieties that have been less tampered with for local industrial agriculture. My favorite recipe to ruin people on grocery store produce is giving them a fresh-from-the-vine cherry tomato that was grown in the garden. Literally handing it to them still warm from the sun shining on it. The first time it happened to me, every cherry tomato I’ve had from the grocery store has tasted like cardboard in comparison.

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