It’s cherry season in the BC Kootenays which is awesome. They are easily my favorite fresh fruit, and even after four weeks of nonstop cherries, I’m not tired of eating them. I am, however, tired of dealing with them! But not so tired that I’m able to turn down free cherries. I just can’t handle the thought that so much ‘perfectly good’ fruit is considered to be culls. Why?
Let me illustrate. A few months ago my husband and I were in the grocery store buying apples. As I picked through the apples, I mumbled something about wanting smaller apples than most of the ones on display. I just prefer not to eat huge apples.
Jim said, “You’re part of the problem, you know.”
And it’s true. It’s not the grower’s or the apple’s fault what size it is. The quality of the apple is barely related at all to its size. And yet the consumers dictate what size is suitable, and what size is undesired.
Now it is cherry season, and I’m having a close up view of what salable cherries don’t look like. In many cases, it’s hard to tell. In some cases they are too large. In others they are too small. Some of them are lopsided in shape. Some have a slight mark from a rubbing branch or twig. A few have very minor scars from too much rain. In all of those cases, there is nothing wrong with the cherry from my point of view. They’ll keep just fine for a few days until we get time to dehydrate, freeze, juice, or eat them.
Cherries picked without stems also aren’t salable, as they won’t keep as well. And some of the cherries do have soft spots. Those are the ones that will start to go moldy first, and infect the whole box if we’re not watchful.
You would be shocked and amazed to see how many tons of culls are sorted from cherry orchards, and there is currently no market for them locally. They just simply aren’t the right size or they aren’t perfect enough to withstand a week in a cooler being shipped to Germany or other distant destinations.
This issue affects every type of fruit (and probably vegetable) grown in one way or another. A lot of it has to do with how picky we are as consumers. We look at produce in the store and go for uniform, perfectly shaped, polished fruit that has an even color. Give it a thought next time you’re in the produce section.
Are you part of the problem? How can you be part of the solution instead?