Daily life of the vegetarian #10
WHEN A MEAT eater buys a few veg to go with a bit of carcass, it’s often a token gesture. A carnivore can get all the protein he needs from that slab of meat, so green matter, while adding up to a more balanced meal, isn’t seen as being strictly necessary. [It is, of course, but we’ll talk about that some other time].
For vegans and vegetarians, vegetables become absolutely essential, and it becomes absolutely essential for those vegetables to be fresh, and of good quality.
There are many factors that can compromise the value of vegetables, including nutrient loss from being too long on shelves or in storage, poor soil health, and the potential health hazards of pesticides.
While the debate about the superiority of organic produce will continue to rage, few self-respecting vegetarians would take seriously recent claims made by supposedly efficacious scientific studies that there were few health benefits from eating organic. That’s another subject for another day, because it deserves dedicated coverage.
But what about the quality of foods that are food staples for vegetarians?
During the last year, in particular, I’ve been shocked at the poor quality of avocados, a wonder food that is one of the few in the vegetable kingdom that packs a real protein punch. I couldn’t imagine life without the avocado, and power though quite a few of them each week. But of late, I would estimate that up to a quarter of all avocados purchased have been unusable.
What this means is that they turn rotten before they turn ripe, and a rotten avocado is literally unusable. In fact, smelling or eating the flesh of a rotten avocado is one of the most repulsive experiences I can think of – the first time it ever happened to me, it put me off avocados for at least six months.
It doesn’t matter whether they’re bought ripe off the supermarket or veg shop shelves, or still-to-ripen, both categories have been unusually prone to being rotten.
Wondering if it was just my bad luck, I quizzed my wife, who works at a sushi restaurant that uses a heck of a lot of avocados each week. It turns out they’ve experienced the same problem: they buy avocados in bulk, but have found recently that an unacceptable proportion are rotten.
This is obviously bad news for non-meat eaters. If up to a quarter of purchased avocados are rotten, then that means buying a quarter more avocados to make up for it. And the price of avocados has gone up quite a bit this year, too.
Everybody accepts that with fresh garden produce there’s a small percentage that will prove inedible, but clearly, what we have here is a genuine problem.
So… what’s up with avocados? Does anybody have any inside information? Could it be that modern storage methods are seeing avocados stored for too long? Or are there just a few rogue, poor quality suppliers who are polluting the supply chain with their inferior avocados? Or could it be that New Zealand is exporting all its best avocados, and leaving us with the bad ones?
I intend to follow this up, but if anybody has any leads, or even their own simple observations on this issue, I’d like to know. GARY STEEL