Permanent Global Summertime
1st September, 2004
As the supermarket doors glide open there they are – cosmetically perfect, irresistibly firm, brilliantly coloured fruit and vegetables. And yet, when you get them home, they taste of nothing. Is it the way you cooked them, or have you just selected badly? No, you’ve been conned.
A Briton born 100 years ago, resurrected and propelled around the typical modern supermarket, would be astounded at the staggering choice that’s on offer there. Entering via the fruit and vegetable aisle, he or she might even conclude that his children’s children live in a latter-day Garden of Eden. How else would you explain that eye-catching cornucopia? Modern consumers who actually eat the stuff, however, are less impressed.
In 2002 an article I wrote for The Guardian entitled ‘Strange fruit’, which attacked the quality of supermarket fruit and vegetables, received an unusually large, impassioned and supportive postbag. One Cambridgeshire reader wrote in referring to the ‘gastronomical tyranny’ of the supermarket fruit and vegetable shelves. ‘The supermarkets’ dumbing down of our taste experience isn’t just confined to selecting varieties with longest shelf life and least flavour,’ he continued and went on to relate a personal taste experiment. ‘Last week I compared a Victoria plum from our garden with one bought from Sainsbury’s. One was full of flavour and a succulent mouthful, the other tasteless pap. You can guess which was...
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