Because a bare cupboard and an empty fridge are sad sights to behold, the Urban Forager hunts through food & wine shops bringing home tasty morsels that make your kitchen table the best place to eat in town.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

God Bless America and Our Lumpy Vegetables

America, at least the one I grew up in, takes great pride in its misshapen fruits and vegetables. You only have to attend one county fair in any small town to know this is true. The large and misshapen vegetable display at the Benton County Fair my family went to every summer was one of my favorite exhibits (less favorite than the pig barn, more favorite than the quilting displays).

I remember walking through the rows of vegetables that people had entered and actually aspiring to enter it myself one day. I really believed that if I worked hard enough, I too could grow a potato that looked like a hippopotamus or a pumpkin that weighed more than my Dad or a zucchini that had naturally taken the shape of a VW bug.

But where one person sees a work of art, another sees a piece of produce that society needs to be protected from. For the last twenty years most of Europe has regulated the shape and size of 36 fruits and vegetables that are sold in supermarkets. Cucumbers, for example, must not be bent by a curve of more than 10mm per 10cm. It is illegal to sell cauliflower that is less than 11cm in diameter. In order for a banana to be a proper banana, "the thickness of a transverse section of the fruit, between the lateral faces and the middle, perpendicular to the longitudinal axis, must be at a minimum of 27 millimeters."


I am happy to report that I heard on NPR yesterday the EU has rescinded the ban on 26 of the 36 fruits and vegetables that have been regulated. Ugly, misshapen fruits and vegetables are now free to co-mingle with the pretty ones! Hopefully, the last ten will soon be free as well. Although I have to admit, I kind of like the regulation on pears that states, "Pears must not be gritty." In some cases, those Europeans have their priorities straight.

Happy 4th of July everyone.

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