Is that a cucumber in your pocket?

There was a news story yesterday that the European Union has decided, in light of the current global food shortage, they will no longer be throwing out misshapen fruits and vegetables.  Bendy bananas, quirky cukes and warped wasabi will now appear on shelves as Class 2 produce.

I did a double take and thought, “What? They’ve been throwing out edible vegetables all this time, just because they didn’t look nice?” I don’t why it never occurred to me to wonder about the perfection  of produce available for purchase.

So, I went to visit my local greengrocer to find out more.  I’ll call him Vito.  Vito said, “How YOU doon?”  

After an exchange of pleasantries I put my misshapen produce query to him. Vito said, “Oh ya, tons of produce gets chucked out alla time just ‘cause it ain’t pretty enough”.  

Vito seemed disproportionately angry about the subject.

“Cucumbers, f’rinstance are trone out da most,” said Vito.  “Nobody wants a cucumber than ain’t straight and an’ tote-lee roun’ and tick, ya know?” he added, with a pained look in his eyes.

Poor Vito. I made my escape while he was still mumbling about small, bent cucumbers being just fine with Peking duck or something.

Anyway, I checked the Canadian Food Inspection site for cucumber regulations and was astounded to find that in order to find their way onto our grocery store shelves, seedless cucumbers must:

  • Be practically or fairly straight.  The height of the inner arc of curvature does not exceed 76 mm (3 inches), when measured from a flat surface
  • Be not more than very slightly constricted and not more than moderately or slightly tapered or pointed at either end.
  • Have a good characteristic green colour over at least 85% of its surface area.
  • Have a minimum length of 280 mm (11 inches);
  • Have a minimum diameter of 41 mm (1 5/8 inches)

There are a couple more pages of cucumber regulations on the site if you’d care to read them.

Will Canada follow the EU and begin encouraging nationwide enjoyment of the less-than-perfect cucumber specimens? Would you buy misshapen produce? Will Vito ever find true happiness?

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