Food Chain Radio News
Food Chain Radio Show #985
Michael Olson, Author & Urban Farming Agriculturalist
THE RED DELICIOUS PARADOX
Why does a food so beautiful taste so bad?
Guests: Professor Apple – Tom Burford, Author, Apples of North America
It is a broken promise.
It was given a rich red color and a shape for standing on its own without blemish or bug, and so became the most beautiful item on the grocers’ shelves.
Yet, when one bites into the promise, one tastes only disappointment.
It is the paradox of the Red Delicious apple: We have refined a food to be so beautiful it commands a presence on the grocers’ shelves, and yet so tasteless it fills the nation’s garbage cans.
The Red Delicous apple was not always tasteless. In fact, it was once so filled with taste it became the focus of an industry, and its production industrialized to serve the world. In industrializing, however, producers selected for an apple that looked good, stored longer, and shipped well, and thus the Red Delicious came to dominate the grocers’ shelves
But somewhere along the line, producers neglected to select for taste, and so the Red Delicious lost the flavor that made it so special to consumers.
Though the Red Delicious still dominates the grocers’ shelves, and tens of million of bushels are sold every year, the apple is left uneaten in the lunchboxes of school children, on the trays of hospital patients, and in the fruitbaskets of hotel reception desks.
The paradox of the Red Delicous apple leads us to ask:
Why was this one apple selected from the many apples?
What is lost when we select one apple over the many apples?