Where have all the good fruit veges gone?
ONE question you may be forgiven for asking is "Where have all the good fruit and vegetables gone?" Answering this question is a little complex.
The few remaining greengrocer shops and the supermarkets have a great range of products, but quantity is not really the same as quality.
It appears that supermarkets will not buy bananas if they are not large and straight.
Apparently housewives do not like small crooked bananas. If that is the case, they do not know a good banana when they taste one!
We now rarely see more than these large, tasteless creations often with a long black core. Where are the Lady Fingers, the Plantains, or the Sugar Bananas?
Tomatoes are almost as bad. Most have been genetically modified so that the skins are tougher and the fruit will keep better and not bruise as easily.
But you have to get a very sharp knife to cut through the skin and, if you are old and have a failing denture, you may be better off peeling the skin off entirely.
The taste is rarely rich and sweet. To transport without being damaged they normally have to be picked green. This ruins the flavour.
Pineapples, mangos, even apples and oranges, are not what they used to be.
Owen Beh developed a wonderful pineapple at Alstonville - a cross between the queen variety and the prickly.
A few local growers had these pineapples but they appear to have vanished in recent years - both growers and pineapples.
When the factory opened in Ballina years ago it bought only pineapples of a certain size and shape. Perhaps this influenced some local growers and so the variety died out.
We have a great many new fruits and vegetables in the shops these days.
Whoever heard of a zucchini until the 1950s or 1960s? Many of these new products have been introduced to our shops by migrants.
Some are wonderful, some are peculiar, but one must ask whether the quality is there too.
It's like the banana - if you don't know what something should taste like you cannot really judge whether it is good or bad.
One vegetable you rarely see now is the apple cucumber. These pale green beauties are much superior in taste to their long dark green sisters.
Peas seem to have given way to beans in most shops, or else are far too expensive.
Many products have been changed or rejected because of modern harvesting techniques - the product has to ripen at the same time so that the harvester can sweep it all in together.
Local markets where small landholders bring in their produce are great.
Years ago this was the norm - farmers, especially dairy farmers, would grow cash crops of fruit and vegetables.
It provided local shops with fresh produce (and eggs too!) at a reasonable price. Roadside stalls were more common too.
Strawberries were wonderful - not great big things which are hard and sour.
Pumpkins, potatoes, sweet corn and others were there too.
Have you ever tasted a beautiful rock melon or a locally grown water melon (especially the yellow ice cream variety)? The mouth waters at the very thought of these!