Today, I have started to pick apples in an intensive orchard for a local packing house, which will then ship them out to suppliers, supermarkets or overseas. OK, the work is physically demanding but what is more upsetting to me is the wastage.
You need to understand that the packing house will not accept anything other than perfect. Therefore the apple has to be:
- the correct shape (mis-shaped apples are discarded)
- the correct colour (too green and the apple is left on the tree or discarded)
- unmarked (any mark or blemish means the apple is discarded)
- the correct size (too small and the apple is discarded)
You get my drift. It’s all because we, the consumer, expects fruit of all kinds to be a certain shape, colour and size. Anything else and it won’t sell in the shop. Therefore, the shop will not buy anything but perfect fruit. So the suppliers only wants perfect fruit from the grower.
This desire for perfection means that often the best flavoured fruit is discarded. It has also seen the demise of many varieties of fruit because they “don’t look good on the shelves.”
It’s the same in society. People are often overlooked or ‘discarded’ e.g. you don’t look perfect; don’t have the right colour skin; don’t have the right skills; don’t speak the same language.
I believe that it’s time to see beyond the initial image. We need to look deeper and see the beauty, the creativity, and the potential in others and ignore those things that society says are ‘imperfect’.
As for the apples: I also believe that we should be very concerned about the way we grow our food. In our pursuit for perfection, we run the risk of loosing ancient varieties of fruit and vegetables. We should be looking to buy our food locally, and support our local growers and local industry. To me, it’s a crime to see food on our shelves from other countries, that we are perfectly capable of growing ourselves in our own country.
By the way, the majority of the apples I am picking will not be sold in the country they were grown. They will be shipped elsewhere. And guess what, we will see USA apples on our supermarket shelves instead!!
In what way have you experienced being ‘discarded’?