European Commission agriculture commissioner, Mariann Fischer Boel of Denmark, wants to scrap most of the regulations governing the marketing of vegetables and fruits. The current regime is needlessly finicky, she says, causing grocers to discard slightly bent carrots and lumpy peaches in a time of rising food prices in Europe and famine abroad.
Consider the Class I cucumber, which must be "practically straight (maximum height of the arc: 10 mm per 10 cm of the length of cucumber)." Translation: A six-inch cucumber cannot bend more than six-tenths of an inch. Following 16 pages of regulations on apples (Class I must be at least 60mm, or 2 1/3 inches, in diameter) come 19 pages of amendments outlining the approved colors for more than 250 kinds.
As for peaches, "to reach a satisfactory degree of ripeness . . . the refractometrix index of the flesh, measured at the middle point of the fruit pulp at the equatorial section must be greater than or equal to 8° Brix."
And if that doesn't convince that things have gotten out of hand in Europe's fruit stands, this will:
In January 2007, the Dutch Ministry of Agriculture issued a report in which it took 29 pages to explain "quality standards for onions," complete with 43 photographs.
Brings a tear to your eye, doesn't it?
America's own war for ugly tomatoes here.