Some time ago, on the way home, I decided to buy an apple. It was a nice round red apple. I didn't eat it right away and put it on the shelf on my desk. As the days passed, the apple remained as red, round, and pleasant as it was on the first day. In fact, it lasted a whole month.
When I finally decided to eat it, the apple was as crisp and flavorful as ever. I was glad this apple lasted so long, and eating it made me feel less guilty for leaving it on the shelf for a whole month. He certainly wouldn't have wanted to eat a soft, rotten apple.
These days we are used to seeing perfect, almost identical fruits and vegetables in supermarkets, which sell only attractive products. But how can fruits and vegetables look so good in the supermarket while they are much less so in my grandmother's garden?
This perfection has a huge cost on our psychology, health, and environment. "If it looks good, it tastes good" is the common mindset. Constantly seeing perfection, we have become blind to the beauty of imperfection as if nature itself is flawless.
However, our new standards of beauty in products have been achieved through the use of pesticides and chemicals that prevent crops from interacting with insects, mites or nematodes. Such chemicals have the ability to contaminate the tissues of almost all animal species on earth. They also pollute lakes, rivers and oceans, as well as the fish and birds that feed on them. We also consume these chemicals in our contaminated food and water.
The pesticides that make fruits and vegetables flawless are causing numerous deaths and chronic diseases around the world. Scientific researchers have linked them to health problems such as immune suppression, hormonal disruption, low IQ, reproductive deviations, and cancer.
We are harming our health and our planet by looking for the best shaped peach in the supermarket aisle. No part of the population is completely protected from exposure to pesticides and their possible health effects.
Also, cosmetic blemishes are the number one cause of food waste. Globally, about a third of our food production is wasted. Crops are not harvested if they do not meet appearance quality standards. Many consumers in the developed world throw away fruits and vegetables as soon as they no longer look fresh and pretty.
Food waste has had a huge impact on both the environment and human health. Overproduction causes unnecessary pollution, as well as unnecessary overconsumption of surface and groundwater resources. It naturally follows that exposure to pollutants and depletion of water sources can terribly affect human health and well-being.
We are losing biodiversity. As all crops are grown in large quantities to be exported around the world, fruits and vegetables that cannot be kept in good condition for long are simply no longer produced. In an oasis in the Tunisian desert, for example, a native apricot species is no longer cultivated as it matures quickly and therefore cannot be kept long enough to sell in a large market.
This is just one case in a full process of habitat simplification, which is contributing to our increased vulnerability to environmental and human health problems. If nature doesn't shine as bright as we would like, there must be a natural reason. Even if a vegetable is not perfectly bright in color, it is probably still tasty and healthy.
Food should not be chosen with our eyes alone. Let's change the way we see and think so that we can change the way we produce.