I came across an interesting, short piece in the NY Times yesterday. It talked about how our society’s increasing preference for processed foods is pushing us towards uniformity. It used the popular, everyday fruit, apples, to portray this progression.
After reading the article (click on the link above to check it out), I started thinking about my love of apples and how I can only get my favorites at certain places.
Take a moment to think about how many places offer red delicious apples as the sole available fruit option. Too many. I actually loathe red delicious apples. Many kids probably feel the same way and tell their parents, “I don’t like apples”, when in fact it’s because all they’ve ever eaten is those cardboard-tasting, unripe, overwaxed red not-so-delicious apples served at school. This can perpetuate the situation of our junk food society by making kids increasingly turn towards junk rather than the healthier option of fruit.
As we move towards a nation becoming infatuated with chips, candy, and cheeseburgers, it’s important to take a step back and look at all the factors that may be leading us towards this unhealthy progression. An apple’s got to taste good for a kid to want to eat it, especially when it’s competing with so many sweet-&-salty addictive combinations put out on the market these days.
So why are the tasteless red delicious the ubiquitous Starbucks of the fruit kingdom? I can tell you one thing, it’s not because of their taste. While the red delicious may have at one time been a sweet, juicy tasting apple, they have gone far astray from this. The reason why red delicious are so prevalent is because of their sturdiness– making them conducive for shipping– their deep red color– making them eye-catching– and their extensive shelf life– allowing them to be able to sit in stores for long periods of time. For producers, this means profit. And so this is what lead to the boom of the red delicious apple. The red delicious we know today is actually a clone of the original, sacrificing the original variety’s taste for the enhanced profit-making traits mentioned above. The original was genetically mutated to form the red delicious we know today. Thus, the commercial industry has rapidly caused the deterioration of the taste and texture of red delicious apples.
This kind of sacrificial farming is happening with all kinds of produce. Farmer’s are doing away with variety in favor of growing only the most reliable crops. Monopolized patenting is only increasingly helping to exacerbate the decrease in consumer variety. But as I mentioned two posts ago, humans like variety! We need variety if our minds are ever going to consistently be satisfied with eating healthily. If our only choices of variety are within the junk food aisles, then that is where are nation is going to continue to head…down the aisle of obesity. Instead, we need to move towards placing our focus on developing new crossbreeds of fruits and vegetables, and keeping up with the varieties we have, in order to spice up our desire for naturally nutrient-enriched, fresh food.
With a continuous sense of money on our minds, our market-based society has moved towards destroying our quality of food. Unripened, overwaxed produce is being sold in favor of shelf-life and $$ rather than human’s taste buds. Yes, the primary purpose of eating is to provide our bodies with nourishment, but taste is almost equally important considering that our society’s obesity rates are rapidly soaring as we increasingly choose tasty, salty, and greasy, over healthy. Plus, foods that aren’t able to to sit in stores for days on end because of limited shelf-lives actually require the consumer to buy them while they’re fresh. This means that many crops thrown out the window would actually provide superior nutrition since they would require consumers to buy them while they still contained their maximum amount of nutrients. As those red delicious apples sit on display for weeks in the supermarket waiting for someone to pick them up, they are losing nutrients each and every day. (Which is why you should take advantage of farmer’s markets...this usually ensures fresher, just-picked, ripe produce).
Anyways, enough of my ranting about our corrupt food industry. In short, profit is outweighing taste and nutrition. This is evident by looking at the everyday apple. We need to be conscious and active about keeping variety within healthy foods rather than junk before our food industry turns into one monopolized assembly line. Just watch Food Inc. and you’ll see why junk food is so cheap in comparison to healthy food, and how the gov. is actually helping to make our foods resemble assembly lines through the low-cost price of the commodity crop, corn. Obesity needs to be approached from all angles before it become the #1 cause of preventable deaths (currently #3 behind tobacco and high blood pressure-which is actually often caused by obesity). Let’s start selling and offering Jonagold and Fuji apples everywhere and showing kids what a real apple tastes like. As for me, I know I’d choose a good apple over chips with my lunch anyday.