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Tuesday, September 05, 2017

The Ripe Fruit Conundrum

Why is it that you can no longer get fruit at the supermarket that is ripe and ready to eat?

My local supermarket hasn't sold a yellow banana in five years. They're all green! It looks like they were plucked off the tree the day after they became, officially, bananas.

There's a gas station near me where I can go in any day and buy a ripe banana and eat it right now. But if I go into the supermarket, I have to wait a week and a half. Otherwise, I risk bodily damage.

Q: What happened to you today?
A: I chipped a tooth on a banana. Yes, I took the peel off.

Bananas should not be crunchy.

My wife and I used to make the mistake of buying too many bananas. There's no way two normal people can eat eight bananas during their ready-to-eat phase before they go bad. She has left me notes on the counter saying, "For chrissake, eat one of these last two bananas before they turn brown," because when they do, it's mush-mouth time. We learned to only buy them in bunches of four or six, and then get some more. But it's hard to work out that timing when the damned things are as green as a lime.

It's not just bananas. Same thing with watermelon and cantaloupe, the two greatest summer fruits. I used to look forward to eating them almost every day between Memorial Day and Labor Day. But you cannot get them ripe anymore. There was a time when you could pick one up out of the supermarket bin, feel it, and make an educated guess about whether you could eat that melon when you got home. Not anymore. If you try that, you'll be disappointed as soon as you cut it open.

What else in the supermarket is sold like that? Not milk, not eggs, not cereal, not salad dressing. If I buy some boneless chicken breasts this afternoon, I can have them for dinner tonight. Unlike the fruit, if I kept them around for another week, I'd be inviting a colony of salmonella to join me for the meal.

We live in the on-demand society. We have these things in our pockets that will answer any question about anything immediately. You want to watch a TV show you missed? It's waiting on your DVR or streaming service whenever you're ready.

But if you want a ripe banana right now? You can't have one -- unless you fill up your tank, too.

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