1 EAGLETON NOTES: Perfection

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Tuesday, 6 June 2017

Perfection

Why? Why does all our food have to be perfect? If I grow vegetables then I eat them in the form that they come out of the ground or off the plant, bush or tree. Supermarkets, on the other hand, insist on perfection. It may be bland or tasteless but at least the shape will be perfect. I was in a major supermarket a few days ago and I happened to see some lovely looking Hereford strawberries with the following label:


I bought a punnet:


Some of them were a bit misshapen but they were absolutely delicious. At a fraction of the price of the 'perfectly shaped' ones they tasted even better.

It made me wonder exactly why we demand perfection or whether it's just that supermarkets only provide perfection and that marketing is leading.

Either way I would love to know what price perfection adds to our food bills.

22 comments:

  1. I love this Graham. I have a hard time finding the sense in many of society's expectations. Have you seen the video of the bananas they throw away because they don't fit supermarket perfection. It's so sad.

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    1. Julia with so much going on in the world and its inability to feed so many people I find our attitude to this almost immoral (although that's rather too strong for an individual desire for something that looks nice).

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  2. https://youtu.be/QIHrB3HjIes

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    1. I hadn't seen that Julia. It's absolutely unforgivable.

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  3. The public, the people demand perfection, even though they're not perfect themselves....even though so many believe they are!

    It is not the fault of the supermarkets...but the fault of the demanding public, many of whom live in a fool's paradise.

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    1. I wonder, Lee, how much we demand and how much we have been conditioned by marketing to demand.

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  4. It's all about marketing and competition. As consumers we are sucked into the scam.

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  5. Each year my very first Courgettes are mis-shapen 'twins'; like two stuck together side by side. I've recently eaten several. I wonder what happens to the commercially grown 'twins'; presumably the are thrown away.

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    1. Cro I'm sure they'll end up composted.

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  6. Maybe you are not all that surprised to read that I nearly always take "the odd one out" when I do my food shopping. Most of that I do at Aldi's, which is just round the corner from where I live. They have organic (labeled "Bio" in Germany) fruit and vegetables on offer, next to the conventionally grown products, and among the organic range, I often find fruit or veg in less than perfect shape. Those are my favourites, and I actively look for them.
    I suppose the general question is a bit like the chicken-and-egg one: What was there first, consumers' expectations of perfect fruit, or shops being lead to offer only perfect fruit based on what their marketing people told them? It seems it is a bit of both.

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    1. I'm not at all surprised, Meike. And, yes, it probably is a bit of both.

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  7. I saw a program on this very topic not long ago. You would be gob smacked at what farmers throw away because supermarkets won't accept imperfect. In particular bananas were mentioned. They are thrown away if they are too straight , too curved, too marked, too long...unbelievable the waste. It was an Australian show called "War on Waste"

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    1. Diane there should be more such programmes.

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  8. It is good that this matter is being raised these days. To every right thinking consumer, it is utterly crazy even criminal to oblige growers to plough misshapen vegetables back into the ground. A third of the world is starving or on the edge of starvation yet our profit hungry supermarkets want our fruit and veg to look perfect! If bloggers were rejected because they don't look right "Eagleton Notes" would have absolutely no visitors - apart from me of course.

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  9. I have never been convinced that the quest for perfect fruit and veg lies in the hands of the consumer although I personally know consumers who are wantonly wasteful and unbelievably picky. The "War on Waste" program mentioned by Diane revealed that independent grocers (as opposed to the supermarket juggernauts) successfully sell loads of imperfect produce

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    1. They do indeed, Kylie, and I'm quite happy to patronise them when I can but, in my experience, they tend to be more expensive simply because they do not have the bargaining power of the supermarkets. When and if UK produced food ceases to be heavily subsidised through farm subsidies (as is the case in New Zealand for example) people may get a surprise.

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  10. I completely agree, Graham. What really saddens me is the lack of those bit, fragrant, rather blemished tomatoes they sell in countries like Italy. We have those horrid little pale ones, uniformly round and uniformly tasteless. Not at all the same.

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    1. Frances one only has to grow ones own tomatoes (not in the Hebrides of course) to realise what we are missing.

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  11. It's very sad that we as a society have come to this expectation of perfection on an ongoing basis....very sad.

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    1. Yes Virginia it is sad and our expectations are not sustainable in the long run.

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