Tuesday, May 19, 2015
save the baby vegetables
Someone has to say something. It may as well be me. At least, I can tee up the ball.
The slaughter of baby vegetables and fruit must stop. Where is our humanity? How have we slipped into this abomination?
I am not certain when it began. But American produce tables are now covered with junior varieties of their larger kin.
Softball-sized watermelon. Tiny heirloom tomatoes. "Cocktail" English cucumbers. Almost as if Brobdingnag had started importing its produce from Lilliput.
Last night our dinner was a Cotton tradition: Greek salad (with heirloom tomatoes, sweet onions, English cucumbers, South African peppadew peppers, feta cheese, and assorted Greek olives served with a dressing of fresh lemon juice, garlic, and olive oil).
During the past six years, I have managed to put together a very pale copy in Mexico. Just go through that list and draw a line through items you do not regularly find in your Mexican market.
Christy, my sister-in-law, and I were shopping at Costco yesterday afternoon when I decided to start buying the salad ingredients for our meal. Costco almost always offers interesting twists in its produce department. Yesterday was no exception.
Heirloom tomatoes and English cucumbers were on offer. But only in miniature sizes. "Cocktail" was actually used as an adjective for the cucumbers.
When I first encountered the "individual size" watermelons, I was under the impression that someone had developed fruit that would meet the shopping needs of single people. That is, until I took a closer look at the produce. It did not take me long to figure out that some farmer had stumbled across a brilliant marketing device.
Every farmer culls his crop -- removing smaller fruits and vegetables from the mother plant to let the remaining fruits and vegetables grow to full size and flavor. Usually, the culls are tossed into a compost pile or simply tilled back into the field. Someone came up with the idea of foisting them off on the consuming public as a new product. Ingenious!
The problem is found in the last word of the first sentence. "Flavor." These lilliputian sizes simply do not have the flavor of the full size pieces.
With one exception. I was surprised to discovered how much flavor the early pick heirloom tomatoes have. But that may simply be in comparison with Safeway tomatoes.
I take my hat off (if I wore one) to whoever came up with the idea. Whoever it was has convinced buyers they are getting a good deal for smaller portions. And it offers more proof to me that Americans are slowly losing their ability to discern between truly fresh produce in season -- and something that looks nice.
As for sparing the baby vegetables, I will leave that to some other activist better suited to this type of thing. Maybe one of those kayactivist guys.
Excuse me, I am going to have a second serving of my salad.