Introduction: What is “too old” for berries?
There are plenty of people who would prefer that age not be a factor in when fresh produce is eaten. You may look down on friends for picking up the day-old donuts or the end-of-the-night ice cream from the corner store, but there’s no need to have such disdain for berries. Because of the plastic and other equally bad things we put into our food, there is a lot of concern about what age our produce is when it comes to losing its nutrition. That’s why the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has found it necessary to start regulating fresh produce. The changes that have been made are very hard on consumers who are used to being able to shop at a farmers or grocery store without worrying about how old the produce is — or even how fresh it might be. But if you’re interested in making sure you’re getting the right vitamins and minerals, then it’s important to be able to know how old each fruit or vegetable is and where it came from.
The older the berry the sweeter the juice.
Is an Age Limit for Berries Unnecessary?
Before the changes, you wouldn’t be able to tell that a strawberry had been picked on the same day it was sold, even if it was a little brown. But these days farmers are required to put their produce through a storage process called ripening. The USDA sets minimum and maximum ripening requirements for each type of produce so that the farmers can manipulate how quickly or slowly their crops ripen. The faster the process, the more money the food companies make because they can sell less-than-ripe produce and ripen it later. Faster ripening also reduces losses from spoilage. But here’s the catch: They can only control when and how much a given piece of fruit is allowed to ripen before it is sold.
However, if an apple is picked unripe and put into storage, but then allowed to ripen naturally after that, it will still taste the same – just a little bit sweeter. That’s because the added sugar in the apple juice – which is the same sweetness as there would be from an unripe fruit – causes it to seem sweeter than it would otherwise. This means that on some days, farmers are allowed to sell immature fruits, meaning they will ripen naturally during their time in storage.
The Myth of “Fat-Free” Berries
The biggest problem with these regulations is that consumers are being led to believe that the berries in the store are fresh, when the reality is that they’ve been tricked into buying over-ripened fruit. In many cases, what you end up getting is a lot of sugar and flavor–but little nutrition. Now, the price of fresh fruit has gone up, and people’s budgets can’t always keep up. We don’t really want you to stop buying fruit–it’s full of good stuff, but we want to make sure that you know what you’re getting.
Conclusion / Thoughts on Berry Picking
I think that the industry has worked out, with this new system in place, that you can sell a little bit of standing produce to the public if you want. So, I would think that in the future there will be some advantages to selling over-ripened fruit. But I also would agree that a lot of people are going to have the attitude that someone else needs to be held accountable for their actions. They’re going to demand more information about where the produce comes from and exactly what it’s done since it got picked. The government might say it’s not their responsibility to give that information to the public — but I think some of us are going to decide they have to be held accountable.
They need to tell us where the fruit is coming from, how old it is, and exactly what’s been done to it. It’s not that hard to do. I think that some of us are going to decide that we want more information about the products we buy. We’re going to say: “I’d like to know what kind of gas was used in the truck that transported the berries across the country. I’d like to know if there are any genetically modified berries in my berry or strawberry smoothie. If there are, I don’t want them.” We’re going to decide that we have a right to know.