Tuesday, 23 September 2008



No, that's not a swear word, thought it probably should be, because fruxaffigology has been suggested as a generic name for fruit and veg label collecting.

Why anyone would want to collect fruit and veg labels, I don't know. There are stranger hobbies, I suppose, but I reckon it's right up there with train-spotting and nose-picking on the cool and trendiness index and, truth is, I'm sick and tired of having to pry stickers off every fruit before I can use it.

It's bad enough when it's apples or something you might expect to consume one at a time, but the other day, I removed no less than 14 labels off 16 plums (and, before you point it out, yes I do think there's something ironically peculiar about someone who stands and counts the things, let alone collects them.) On plums, where you'd be sure to eat or cook several at once, this is a complete waste of time and energy (theirs and mine) and resources.

All this useless labelling and packaging is for what?

So we can throw it away to create more refuse (PDF) that has to be separated, go in landfill, get burnt and either way, gives off more gasses than politicians generate hot air?

For another thing, I do not want to eat sticky label glue residue, thank you.

But doesn't anyone see the contradiction here? We're being terrorized over waste in the UK and yet we seemingly cannot avoid this epidemic of etiquetas (labels to you: the plums were Spanish) and plague of packaging.

And it's not just some things that are packaged, it is nearly everything: there's noticeably much more packaging here than there was in the stores in Tenerife. In some stores, the only thing you see is rows and rows of conveniently pre-packaged goods. Even the "fresh" produce comes bagged, though the only thing it is conveniently pre-packaged for is supermarket profits, IMHO.

To allow the supermarkets to continue with these abusive practices is to condone waste; waste of food, waste of money, waste of resources.

It's no wonder British consumers can't tell the difference between healthy food and junk either, because packaged, from the outside, it all looks the same; very little of it tastes fresh and wholesome, just bland and manufactured.

Recently, I wanted some large potatoes for baking. Just a couple would have been fine, but do you think I could find any loose? Nah, the least was a pre-packaged bag of four uniform medium-large potatoes, ready washed.

Things sweat in those bags, which, even if they're unpacked and dried when you get them home, often go manky before you can use them, yet in Tenerife, I was used to buying - or being given - sack loads of loose, local muddy things and they would last ages in perfect condition, even in the warm climate.

What is going on with produce in the UK?

Pondering the possible reasons has turned up very little that makes sense, but here carrots go limpid and spuds go spongy in a couple of days. Packaged or not, "fresh" produce in the supermarkets seems to be wet, as though it's been refrigerated and that also seems to speed up it's deterioration, which again seems to me like a deliberate ploy to sell more, more often.

Of course, a wet summer where it almost never stopped raining, where there was a heavy "Autumnal" dew on the grass every morning, right through June, July, August and September and, where, on a relatively warm and sunny and certainly rain-free day, humidity was still at 94%, probably doesn't help!

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