Monday, May 17, 2010


I am livid.

One of the worst things on the planet - after poverty, hunger, war, etc. - is the fruit industry in this country. For years, I have been complaining that fruit doesn't taste like it's "supposed to." Finally, I hear many more people saying the same thing. Fruit is picked too early and blasted with ethylene (a natural chemical produced by apples and bananas) to "ripen" them, but they don't really ripen, do they? They look ripe, but rarely smell like the fruit they are, and taste like ... nothing. I haven't had a decent strawberry from the market in ages. And I never buy the fringe berries that we have here: blackberry, marionberry. They taste like dirty water. Those have to be picked in the woods.

Am I the only person who smells her fruit? People stare at me when I pick up a pineapple and hold it to my nose.

Surely, part of the beauty of this international market of foods is that you can get these wonderful things in northern latitudes: passionfruit, starfruit, dragonfruit, pineapple. But they just aren't right when they are here, are they? I remember eating a mango in Taiwan. Holy crap! Is that what they really taste like? I recall discovering that, yes, I do like pineapple ... in Hawaii. Before, I actually thought it was gross. Who doesn't like pineapple? But that stuff doesn't grow here. Is it great that we can enjoy them, even if they are not all they can be, or is it wrong? Perhaps we shouldn't ship those delicate things. Those tropical things. Those things that age on the table, but really should ripen on the vine. Maybe they will be better and even more special if you can only eat them where they are grown. Some fruits you will never eat. Some just once in your whole life.

Where is this coming from?

I bought a container of kiwi and a pineapple from Costco. The pineapple is fine - pretty sweet, but not Hawaii sweet. The kiwi are rock hard and not ripening, but rather shriveling, like an old woman's lips. The moisture is ... evaporating or something.

And I'm pissed. I keep cutting them open thinking that, yes, it gave to a little pressure, this one, this one is ripe. No. Inedible. It's been two weeks!

Have you ever had a peach from the American South? I mean, California grows some good fruit, but no way do the peaches even compare. No way.

So I am vexed by my fruit conundrum. Do I eschew all the sweet delights that cannot be grown close enough to home to allow them to be picked when ripe and not rocks? Buying organic helps a little, but not much, I've noticed. Buying at farmers markets definitely helps. But I'm not going to get my passionfruit fix at an Seattle market. I won't be shaking the hand of my local durian purveyor any time soon.


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