A lot of it is sold not-quite-ripe, too, which affects taste. Strawberries especially suffer from this. They should be red clear to the leaves, but a lot of the ones I see in the store still have white caps.
I remember the traveling fruit salesman dude that showed up on my doorstep years ago with a box of grapefruit and oranges from the Rio Grande valley, picked two days before. He cut an orange open right there on the stoop and it smelled and tasted like heaven. I bought a whole box, and wished to hell I'd had money to buy more. The oranges were sweet enough that you could eat the rind, too, and the grapefruit needed no sugar at all, none whatsoever, to be perfectly sweet-tart and edible.
Oranges especially have suffered. Dry, flavorless, disgusting. And peaches. Peaches are not what they once were. Paper-bag ripening them helps a lot, and I live in peach and strawberry country, so if I can find someplace that stocks local produce, it generally tastes better. Still. Blechh.
I am glad that produce is cheap, and that people are, you know, eating something. I mean, I'm fuckall poor, you know? I can't afford the money to go hunting out the expensive organic stuff, and I can't afford the spoons to go hunting for a small farmer's market when grocery shopping is one of those things that makes me angry and miserable to have to do. Also, I hate gardening. So I know how that is. Someday when I have lots of money (dear god let this stupid crazy thing we are doing WORK) I will be able to afford to buy food that tastes like something.
The non-ripe would be okay, but it seems that most of the peaches go from green to mealy without any sweet and juicy phase at all. That's why I won't buy them if they don't smell delicious.
And I totally agree about citrus fruit. The first time I enjoyed a grapefruit was when someone came into the place I worked selling hand-picked, carefully packed, flown-in citrus. My only experience with grapefruit was bitter, pulpy fruit that no amount of sugar could truly amend. These were a revelation. (Then there were the Jaffa oranges I ate in Israel. So juicy that a wedge of orange sloshed. Oh my stars....)
It's kind of a crazy balancing act, getting healthy food to people at a decent price, and you make a good point about the tradeoffs. Still, I wonder what else is being compromised by these changes--nutrition?
Oh, I have no doubt at all that a red delicious apple (the irony) is way less nutritious than a real apple.
Oh my god, that orange sounds DIVINE. *weeps*
I tell you I had never in my life voluntarily eaten more than a few bites of grapefruit until that guy let me try one of his and I just about cried.
I grew up in Oregon's apple country, and I won't even buy Red Delicious apples anymore. They are terrible.
I have a reaction to whatever it is they put on apples in the grocery store, so my apple eating is pretty much limited to the fresh ones we pick at Patterson's Farm in the fall.
Honey Crisps are delicious if you can get them.
My husband's grandmother has grapefruits shipped up from the Rio Grande valley every Christmas. The first year she did this, I was very "meh" about them, because I'd never eaten a grapefruit that I liked. Then I decided to try one, since it was either that or throw them out.
I ate the whole box. I bought a juicer just so I could make myself tall glasses of beautifully fresh grapefruit juice. It was like I was eating a completely different fruit from what I was used to.
Part of the reason I want to go back to Mexico for our next vacation is that the fruits and vegetables are so beautifully fresh, picked ripe and shipped straight to the store. The avocados have this amazing buttery flavor that I keep searching for here in the states, unsuccessfully. All of the food simply tastes better, and cooking down there is a dream. The 20 foot display of goat cheese helps, too. :D
I'm jealous. I live in the nation's breadbasket, though, and should be able to get good produce.
Weeelll.. it is the breadbasket. It isn't really the fruitbasket or the vegetablebasket though. I lived near you, and suffered through iceberg lettuce pseudo-salads for a long time.
The rise of the heirloom strains is a good thing. Too many foodstuffs have been homogenized and are not only bland, but a single blight could completely wipe them out (bananas are currently threatened). Diversity is good for longevity. Supermarkets don't care for it any more than livestock producers do, but they do not look long term. As long as they are the main provider they will profit.
Good point; I need to be spending my dollars elsewhere.
You live in the nation's fruit and vegetable assembly line. Worse, you live at the first drop point of the assembly line. Veggies which are picked with the intention that they will show up on most American tables next week only take a day or so to reach your table.
I'm jealous of you. Y'all live in a place where you can easily grow veggies in your own back yard without worrying that the insane heat and drought will fry the whole lot in the space of a single day. Plus, you get to have bees and a fabulous kitchen.
True. I need to get myself a vegetable garden. Next summer.
Pittman & Davis
is the company who she orders the grapefruit from, by the way. They're expensive, but for a special occasion or treat, they're completely worth it. The oranges were a little bland last year but that's apparently unusual. And I'm told the honey mandarins are amazing.