Regulation

EU Agriculture Commissioner Is a Peach

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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.

perfect peach

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.

NEXT: The World Food Crisis and Political Malthusianism

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  1. Government officials more or less admitting the uselessness of their own regulations? I’m almost speechless . . . almost.

  2. She’s from Denmark, eh?
    What about potatoes that bear a resemblance to Mohammed?

  3. This is probably the wrong place to say this, but have you ever had Dutch fruit? It’s really really good. So good, in fact, that I’m willing to blithely accept insane and unproductive government regulation. Of course, I’m not the one growing Dutch fruit.

  4. Did somebody say “Peaches”?

  5. The Dutch also made the carrot orange out of patriotism. Stupid frankenfood.

  6. Did someone say ‘cucumbers’?

  7. So, is there such a thing as Class X (or V, or something different than I) food in the EU and is it cheaper? Betcha it tastes about the same, if it is not ordered destroyed or something.

    Perhaps an investigation into the black market of sub-standard fruits and veggies is in order?

    Could be better than the horse meat episode of “All in the Family”.

  8. I’ve heard that in some decadent social circles, curvier cucumbers are preferred than allowed by EU law. Is this like the EU’s version of the American war on pr0n?

    Fruit Loop — do you really think that these insanely micromanaging regulations are the cause of tasty fruit, rather than such other factors as the shorter distances needed to transport fruit in Europe, or pickier, more discriminating consumers?

    Do cucumbers really taste better if they curve 10 mm instead of the banned 11 mm?

  9. Do cucumbers really taste better if they curve 10 mm instead of the banned 11 mm?

    Do I have to explain everything? A too curvy cucumber will cause uneven slices. This will of course hamper the dispensing the food in an equitable manner. It’s not about shape, or even taste, it’s about fairness.

  10. After reading the “Jesse Helms hated gays” post by Weigel, these constant references to fruits in this post are making me think KMW is a subtler Helms.

  11. sixstring,

    If they were not banning knives I could sell them my fairness slicer.

    Well, it is made with non-union labor too. And untariffed steel. And real ivory handles.

    But otherwise, there should not be a problem.

  12. Guy,

    Can it handle the job of skinning baby seals? I’d buy it to complete my set.

  13. Do cucumbers really taste better if they curve 10 mm instead of the banned 11 mm?

    Who said anything about eating cucumbers?

  14. It’s the same with produce as with every other consumer good in America: the vast majority of people are happy with the cheaper, “good enough” product. The produce at my supermarket is mostly shit. But I buy it because it’s cheap and there’s nothing better that isn’t a 45-minute subway ride away. And because it’s good enough for me. I like being able to choose cheap crap.

  15. I like being able to choose cheap crap.

    Don’t I know it…

  16. Is there any evidence European grocers actually attend to the regulations?

  17. A six-inch cucumber cannot bend more than six-tenths of an inch.

    My ex used to prefer cucumbers that were a little curved. She said they really hit the spot.

  18. I’ve heard of this before but didn’t know the extent of the silliness going on. I’m living in a country that joined the EU not too long ago so next time I go to the produce aisle I’m bringing a measuring tape and compass along to check things out.

    btw, produce here is crap, don’t think it’s all the same in Europe. I lived in Turkey for many years and the bazaar vege’s there are far superior.

    PS – Conferred with the g/f, curvier cucumbers are better for you she says.

  19. Can it handle the job of skinning baby seals? I’d buy it to complete my set.

    That is another product, the Montag Coat Removal Impliment, Junior.

    Comes with a matching hakapik for the initial harvest.

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