In Europe and North America supermarkets like to sell fruit and vegetables that are round and plump and perfectly shaped...and they know their customers. However many of us are learning that the gnarled carrots and funny-looking tomatoes found in farmers' markets actually taste better than the apples that are perfectly formed but tasteless. The European Commission, the parliament of Europe and arbitor of all standards, has now recognised that throwing away imperfectly shaped food is wasteful and is part of the global food crisis. They are reforming the strict rules governing matters such as the colour of leeks, the bendiness of cucumbers and the shape of carrots. These rules have caused thousands of tons of fruits and vegetables to be dumped. For example, the banana: according to the Commission "the thickness of a transverse section of the fruit between the lateral faces and the middle, perpendicular to the longitudinal axis . . . must be at a minimum of 27mm". Hmmm.... and " a string of onions must consist of no fewer than 16 onions bound together" and "asparagus must be green for at least 80% of its length."
But the times are changing and so are the standards: the Commission is planning to scrap standards for 26 fruit and vegetables including apricots, onions, peas, carrots and melons. But France, Spain, and Italy are opposed, claiming that standards "play an important role in market operations while protecting consumers". The compromise: keep the standards for tomatoes, apples, pears, strawberries, lettuce and kiwi fruit. :: The Times