Bland, Dull, Flavorless, Off-Flavored Fruit Begone!

I recently finished eating the latest round of bland fruit from the supermarket; the culprit, this time, was apples. I had previously posted on the topic of bland supermarket fruit (10/18/20111), but have become more disappointed as my dollars are traded for poor-tasting food, especially as the number of types of fruits that have tasted bland has increased.

So what has caused fruit to become described as bland, dull, flavorless, off-flavored, and just plain awful? Many variables factor into the flavor and quality of fruit, but I will focus on two: over-watering and poor quality soil.

A terrible trick that some commercial fruit growers have played on consumers is to over-water their crops to produce fruit that is swollen to seemingly “normal” size and appearance. But when the consumer eats the fruit, what they get is a rude mouthful of watery fruit, absent the flavor. I have had this experience with apples, grapes, nectarines, peaches, and plums.

Soil with nutritional deficiencies produce poorer tasting fruit, notably tomatoes, and I have purchased some rather flavorless tomatoes (http://www.njfarmfresh.rutgers.edu/documents/CanSoilFertilityImproveTomatoFlavor.pdf). See also: http://www.npr.org/blogs/thesalt/2012/06/01/154072388/how-to-grow-the-tastiest-tomato-the-secret-s-in-the-soil

A message to fruit producers:

(1) Water is a valuable commodity. Over-watering a crop to produce a bland product turns off consumers to the product, the store that sells your product, and the producer of that that bland product.

(2) Poor soil can be amended, particularly important if the soil has been overworked, and although that may increase the cost of fruit, I would venture to guess that most of us would be willing to pay that additional cost, rather than pay lower prices, discover the fruit is terrible, throw away the fruit, and stop shopping at the offending store(s) for that product, or that store(s) altogether.

(3) Please taste a sample of your fruit before you sell to stores. Stores and other vendors of this fruit, please do the same.  If quality control occurred before reaching the consumer, complaints would be significantly reduced.

I’ve told friends about the offending fruits, stores, and fruit producers and they have shared their own similar stories. I’ve stopped shopping at specific stores for just this reason. In short, word gets around, and money is happily given over to other stores that sell good product, and I have told friends about these “good” stores. When these fruits cannot be grown at home or when farmers markets are not available, consumers depend on large, commercial markets to supply them. Customers are cheated out of their money when they endure substandard product from these markets.

As a home gardener who produces delicious fruit and vegetables, I find it frustrating and disappointing that this situation exists. Delicious fruit is not some mythic beast that existed in “the good old days.” They are here today, to stay. Whatever the problems that caused the fruit to lose their true, delicious taste, please fix them. They are not insurmountable. Bring back sweet, delicious fruit!

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