Supermarket hyperbole too often falls flat with fruits and veggies

As I was hacking my way into the “golden ripe” cantaloupe that, once cut, was so green one might as well eat blackboard chalk, it occurred to me that the creators of the grocery ad circulars that come in the local newspaper have few equals when it comes to descriptive hyperbole.

Ditto for the “juicy sweet” grapes that were as hard and sour as green persimmons. Cantaloupe and grapes were tossed uneaten into the trash, and the several dollars they cost were wasted. I might as well have bought a couple boxes of Twinkies — at least the granddaughters would’ve eaten those.

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This, alas, is the case with much in the produce section of today’s supermarket — pulled green, gassed or otherwise treated, stored for who knows how long, then promoted in grocery circulars as “tree ripe,” “vine ripe,” blah, blah.

And yeah, I know all the reasons: Gotta grow varieties that stand up to handling, storage, and shipping, that will look reasonably presentable to the consumer, with a decent display life and a minimum of spoilage, and a profit to all the entities along the chain. 

If they have no taste, and likely little nutritional value, well c’est la vie, that’s marketing in today’s world in which everyone is two or more generations removed from the farm — and in most cases, equally far removed from actually knowing what truly fresh, ripe fruit and veggies taste like.

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How many of today’s kids/adults have had the opportunity to go into an orchard, pluck a sun-warmed, fully ripe peach from the tree, and eat it right there, with juice running down their arm? Or bite into a slice of truly ripe cantaloupe?

Unfortunately, not many. We’ve become so accustomed to insipid restaurant salad bar stuff, or sandwiches with a slice of tasteless supposed-to-be-tomato and a sprig of wilted lettuce, or yucky excuses for fruit, that unless we grow it ourselves, or have access to someone who does, we don’t know what’s missing.

Little wonder kids won’t eat fruits and veggies, and chicken nuggets are among the most-consumed food (?).

And before you e-mail how much better organic produce is — it isn’t. At least not in the stores available to me. It just costs more.

Interesting, the recent revelation in the media that the nation’s largest grocer, Walmart, is catching all manner of flak from shoppers for poor quality produce and indifferent stocking in its stores. A key reason, analysts say, is that the company hasn’t had enough staff to stay abreast of proper stocking of fruits, veggies, and perishables such as milk/dairy and meats. Walmart leadership says it’s taking steps to do better.

One can hope. Thus far, it hasn’t filtered down to our Walmart, where on a recent trip several bins were empty and others had only picked-over stuff in much disarray. 

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