Cruelty to fruit and vegetables?: Does anyone... - Healthy Eating

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Cruelty to fruit and vegetables?

Does anyone else, and maybe especially those living in cold climates, get really fed up with the poor standard of fruit and vegetables that are often offered for sale? Supermarket produce is especially prone to this, I find, and it's exacerbated I'm sure by our wanting to buy fruit and veg which only grow in exotic locations. But even those things which are traditionally offered for sale throughout the year, like tomatoes and apples, are just as bad as these two poor avocados pictured above, which my husband brought home from a shopping trip recently. (The mug's there to help show how small they actually are).

I was really irked, as he knows better, having grown up in a tropical climate and what an avocado pear should look like! These poor specimens should never have been allowed out without their mother, and of course turned from rock hard to rotted black inside with no intermediate stage.

I knew, when I lived in the tropics that a cauliflower was not worth having unless it was imported at great cost from overseas, so was eaten only as a treat. (And of course carbon footprint is then another big topic to be considered too.)

We are urged to increase our intake of fruit and vegetables but sometimes I think we don't, as much as we should, because produce is undersized, underripe, tastes of nothing and is liable to break our teeth!

It's not even as easy as saying stick to the things which grow locally. Usually not enough of those are able to be grown to satisfy the market for them, but certainly in the case of these pitiful little avocados, whoever picked, packed and sent them on such a long journey should be the subject of a court case for cruelty to vegetables!

23 Replies

I think that our desire to eat fresh fruit y vegetables out of season is the problem.

Years ago, people understood what was available in what season but now we want what we want and when we want it. Much produce is forced to keep supply up with demand.

In transport, all of the produce goes through various temperature changes. All of this results in very small mouldy produce, inedible.

You are very right to raise this as a concern. Whilst consumer is King and the mighty £ is the desire, I don't see it changing any time soon unless customers demand higher standards and then when profits are threatened, we might see a difference.

Sorry for the long reply.

in reply to

Not at all Bifield34, I was very happy to read your well considered response!

Geeze! The avocados are tiny! I cross my fingers every time I buy fresh veggies and fruit. No matter what store it is. High end included. It’s always been like that, but worse now. If I buy berries, I sit in my car and taste a few. If they’re mushy, most are, I take them back in. I think about opening a package and sampling before I buy, but I can’t bring myself to do that yet. Bags of lettuce that are already turning. Potato’s that start sprouting within a few days after purchasing. Celery with brown mush! So much waste! I know, that’s a topic for another day. Citizens Unite!

in reply to Isinatra

Yes, people power is the answer! We should insist on being able to taste more before buying and not feeling shy of taking back produce that's inedible! Citizens unite, indeed! 👍

Isinatra profile image
Isinatra in reply to


HungryHufflepuff profile image
HungryHufflepuffMeal Of The Month

Having lived or spent considerable time in other countries, I was surprised when I first visited the U.K. to find strawberries in December in the supermarket. In some countries you can only buy fruit and veg when it’s in season, so something like asparagus or Pink Lady apples that have a short season are only to be found in the shops for a few weeks each year. Wanting everything all the time is not good. However there are some fruits like avocados or bananas that do not grow in the U.K. so there’s no option other than importing them. But even so, the quality of some of them really is poor. Often things are picked too early (they’re picked unripe so they don’t ripen in transit) and never ripen, like your baby avocados they go from rock to rotten, with nothing in between. I don’t know if other countries have higher standards because I’ve been in Scandinavia in the depths of winter, and the bananas are yellow and taste good, whereas here I’ve had bananas so unripe they’re actually crunchy, or black and dissolving bananas. In france melons, peaches and nectarines were always sweet and juicy, yet here that’s rare to find, and most often they’re hard and don’t taste of anything much. I know they grow locally there but it’s not that far a journey to the U.K. so why are they so unripe here.

I agree

I completely agree with your comments, we are also limited to a very few varieties of each vegetable or fruit. Only those that can stand the transport and packaging process and have a long shelf life, are offered to us. Our limited choice becomes very tedious after a few years, even if they are flown in from South America! I buy veg from a local roadside stall ( a quiet lane not a bypass!), they grow unusual and tasty varieties which grow to a range of sizes and shapes . We are currently in the veg growing ‘hungry gap’ here in the Cotswolds but we have parsnips, onions, leeks, cauliflowers , cabbages, beetroot and chard. I use the chard in minestrone soup, the stalks are a substitute for celery and it’s leaves for the cabbage. We have a sense of anticipation as we wait for the spring veg. In the summer the tomatoes smell of tomato and the carrots of carrot. Having eaten fresh , fully ripened avocados and figs in the Mediterranean, these half grown fruit and veg are a miserable option. Sorry to rant!

in reply to Alisongold

No, not a rant at all Alisongold. Thank you. All that you had to say is really interesting and well thought out. I can remember as a girl, (such a long time ago now), when we ate much more seasonally. Post WW2 it wasn't possible to obtain many of the more exotic fruits and veg anyway, and then they were imported at such cost that only a very few of the better-off could afford to buy them. I can remember vividly my young friend and I wanting desperately to taste a fresh pineapple. We wondered if we could combine our sixpences of pocket money and buy one for a shilling at the local greengrocer. Imagine our shock when we were told they cost 10 shillings and sixpence. I'm not suggesting we should regress to those days and believe we should be free to enjoy the more exotic fruits and vegetables which have to be imported. But I believe that pursuing cheapness and profit at the expense of quality is totally wrong. But it still stands to reason that it's not sensible to try to enjoy summer fruits and veg in the middle of winter. I am prepared to pay a little more for produce that's properly mature and ripened, but not for the likes of those tiny avocados which should still have been left on their tree!

Hello, I was very interested to read your post about fruit and veg.

I joined the health unlocked group during lockdiwn, I am on lupus uk group for health unlocked and this one came up as I had out under interests either ageing well or healthy eating.

I think I will look at what people write on this grouo more often as lupus uk can get a bit much. Although they are all very supportive,

in reply to catblue1865

I'm glad you are enjoying being a member of the Healthy Eating group catblue1865. It can get a bit intense within some groups dedicated to one condition, at times, and it's quite good to diversify and join groups like Healthy Eating too, which can foster interest in becoming more healthy overall through food.

In the veg garden here in Suffolk at the moment we can pick two types of kale, cavolo nero and curly, leeks and radicchio. In store we have squash and red onions. These along with many other well stored or currently harvestable veg should be widely available in good condition. My weekly fruit and veg delivery has all roots, spinach and pears from the UK, and all other fruits in good condition.

I am told that half of all avocados go to waste, starting at the growers and it’s carbon footprint is the highest of any fruit or veg.

Perhaps another treat food would be more satisfactory, I love walnuts in the shell for my treat.

It's really lovely to have all that fresh produce on hand in counties like Suffolk and I can remember from my Norfolk days, the local markets and their wonderful array of produce. I do feel that city dwellers do miss out on that aspect of food production although there are a few farmers' markets which aren't too pretentious and do offer great locally grown produce too. You're right that it's also about consumer power and I can only think that my husband had a moment of madness in buying those avocados. If someone truly doesn't understand their growing needs, it's easy to make a mistake but really, he, as someone from a tropical background, knows perfectly well about the growing life of an avocado. I think nuts are a great choice as a treat. I must admit I'm very partial to walnuts too, especially 'wet' walnuts at the beginning of the season.

I get those same avocados! Why do they go from hard to black inside and never ripen?

in reply to swordfishll

It's because they are picked too green swordfish and need extra time to mature. They can't be fully ripened because they would become over-ripe before reaching their destination, and sometimes it's really hard for the consumer to judge whether they were picked at the right moment. Generally speaking I find it works out more cost effective to pay the extra for some of those 'ready for eating' avocados which tend to have been picked when mature. It's not any more expensive than having to throw away those black rotting things instead of eating them. But hubby still has some explaining to do over those tiny things pictured, which he must have realised were picked when still only babies!

All food for thought 🥑🍍🥭🥝, thank you for starting the conversation.

10 shillings and 6 pence. Is that 52 1/2 pence? I could probably get a reduced one for that price today.

in reply to Alisongold

Yes, 53p Alisongold. I've just looked to see what the weekly wage was in 1955 for an industrial worker, as my dad was, and in December of that year it was £10 17s. 5d. Rounding that up for simplicity to £11 pounds, you can see quite clearly how much of that it would have taken to purchase a pineapple.... 🤣. Hence the fact that ours always came out of a tin!

What gets me are those signs that say “grown for flavour” often on tomatoes. Obviously these days that’s not the first priority!

Just crazy isn’t it? 🤣

Kitten-whiskers profile image

I couldn't agree more, I think we should expect better now - prices rising and half of it is inedible.

I try to buy "in season" fruit and veg and avoid the other stuff, failing that buying frozen is something else I do more of - but only certain things, some fruit/veg just do not taste nice from frozen

Yes that is why I grow my own

The chalenges is that our winters mean we hardly grow

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