Too good for retail

“Give me spots on my apples, but leave me the birds and the bees.” — Joni Mitchell

Yeah, let’s dive in to the big basket of Defective Fruit:

Really, people need to get used to accepting slightly imperfect produce all of the time — so the producers can use fewer chemicals in its production! I’m not saying ABUSE the produce, but one thing I’ve learned is that the big shiny red “Delicious” apples are woody and tasteless, and the smaller, misshapen ones tend to be better … and at any farmer’s market you’re going to get less-perfect produce. And the idea of “Hey, we’re saving food from the landfill by selling it cheap to “po’ folks,” which is the spin some news stories have put on it, is more than a little offensive.

It doesn’t have to be that way, of course:

[M]y grad school, back when they actually had a functioning university farm (with cows and everything) would collect a lot of the food waste — the uneaten salad and the like — and boil it up and feed it to the cattle. And I remember learning in, I think it was Economic Geology? About a city somewhere — I want to say it was in Colorado — that gave its residents an extra waste bin and asked them to put expired produce and peelings and stuff in there, and the stuff was then boiled up and sold to a hog farmer, who fed it to his animals. And so the city made a bit of money — staving off price increases in garbage collection, food didn’t go to waste, and the farmer got a cheap and abundant source of pig food.

But that made sense, and marketing today is not allowed to make sense:

[T]o me, there seems to be something very “2016” about walking in the store, seeing a big bag of bruised-and-dented produce, and being told to buy it because it’s a good thing and this is what we merit as consumers, anyway … that the New Normal means we need to be satisfied with the increasingly less-good.)

The better-than-good, in the meantime, will find its way to the people willing to pay twice as much. It was, I suspect, always such.


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