Thursday, 10 January 2013

Fruits of the World



I was at the grocery store today and I was baffled by the huge array of fruits and vegetables that are offered for sale. We are so lucky to live in an age when our technology allows food from all over the world to be shipped to us while it is still fresh.

I can remember my grandmother’s fondness for bananas. She would eat at least two bananas for breakfast every day and I imagine that she indulge some other time during the day. The first banana that she ever had was when she was twelve and on a train coming to Ontario. I can’t imagine not ever having seen or tasted a banana as they are so common place in my world. Believe it or not, the banana posed quite a threat to the citizens of North American cities around the turn of the century. People would eat the fruit and then toss the peel on the street which would turn black and slimy. There was a slipping danger of course and the sidewalks became filled with garbage.

A Colonel George Waring solved the problem in New York by having a fleet of uniformed workers sweep the streets and dispose of the garbage in a proper way. Up until this time, large cities would allow pigs to roam the streets and eat the trash that the people would just toss out of their door. Kind of odd, but because the practice wasn’t very effective it led to professional street cleaning and ultimately, city wide garbage collection. Hey…thanks Mr. Banana!

What I can’t understand is how these fruits and vegetables are preserved in such pristine condition until I go to the store and buy them? I get them home and they seem to start going bad immediately. I know that our ancestors had to find ways to make the food last from growing season to growing season, but I understand that food became pretty scarce towards the end of winter.

How can apples be grown all year long?  Even if we assume that our spring apples come from south of the equator, that would mean there would only be fresh apples twice a year. Right?  Right? I can see that mushrooms and lettuce could be grown year round in tanks, but apples? How about oranges? I can’t keep those suckers from getting mouldy in a week or so. Like so much in life, I just don’t know and just as long as the fruits and veggies keep appearing at the stores I am happy to let the experts handle it.

I had a little garden this year and I grew carrots, tomatoes, beets, lettuce and peas. The only thing that kept well at all were the carrots and only so long as I left them in the ground. The other stuff had a short window when I had to harvest them and quite frankly I was pretty useless. I think I will plan a little better for next year and hopefully my vegetables won’t go bad. Hell, even if they do I can just walk up to the store and help myself to the fruits of the world.

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