Hark the three-legged asparagus spear, marvel at the C-shaped cucumber, stand back! The Siamese twin mushrooms may attack. For the finest freak show in the whole of Europe is back – and it’s coming to shop shelves near you.
After 20 long years of lurking in the shadows and toiling around dumpsters, rejected by the society that spawned them, ugly fruit and veg are back. The EU has finally lifted its 1989 directives on marketing standards applied to 26 types of produce decreeing that the shape, size, curvature and general appearance of the fruit and vegetables should be standardised across Europe. And as of today, you’ll be seeing the uglier side of produce on shelves.
And about ruddy time too! A shocking 20% of produce was being rejected on the grounds of the EU rules.
The EU says it has made the move to cut down on the needless bureaucracy critics call ‘Euro-madness’. Which is a plus point as well, of course. But we’re more happy about the increased profit margins the move will free up for farmers of fruit and veg everywhere.
Farmers usually end up selling second-grade fruit to large juice-making companies who don’t exactly pay them handsomely, or getting squeezed even tighter by supermarkets buying their produce for not delivering enough shelf-grade veg.
But sadly, although very significant, this is still only one step in the fight for the freedom of the face of fruit. The 10 most popular types of produce, which account for 75% of EU fruit and veg trade, will still be subject to rules over their appearance. By our figuring, that means the amount of rejected produce will drop only to 15% - still much too high for our liking, even if a large chunk of that is used in other types of food.
So to lift the mood, we leave you with this highly enjoyable video from the BBC – it’s well worth a watch:
Image: Cindy Funk