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Effect of Grocery Stores on Food Diversity

 
steward
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In Jon Steinman's investigation into the history of grocery stores and their effect on food, during the first few chapters of Grocery Story, he mentions how genetic diversity decreases when grocery stores refuse to buy produce:

Jon Steinman wrote:In a food culture of sameness, the grocery giants have also whittled down the genetic diversity of the global food supply. “If the supermarkets don’t want them, the growers won’t grow them,”157 says one grower. With the disposal of diversity, grocers set food’s genetic agenda. Sameness is rapidly becoming the global standard in the lab, in the field, and on the shelf. The grocers’ trade associations are helping author this future.



Basically, the refusal of grocery stores to purchase certain types of produce means that farmers won't want to grow it, because they won't have a buyer anymore (no guarantee of income).

For example, in this article in Mother Jones, only a few variety of apples make up for most of the apples sold in supermarkets.


(source)

However, it is not all bad news, because even though some varieties of produce are "commercially extinct," they still exist in other circles and in people's backyards.
 
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I can believe the apple thing. I might say that supply has an input though. Todays grocers have many stores. If you cannot supply the many stores, you won't get in.

I have been amazed over the past decade though. I am seeing items i have never seen before. Jackfruit, Donut shaped peaches,  Alo vera juice. The list goes on and on.  It is not stagnant.
 
pollinator
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I'll never understand the popularity of red delicious apples,  those are the WORST tasting fresh eating to me, and no good for cooking either.   Is it ONLY their color and shelf life that appeal or do other people REALLY prefer them over all the others?!
 
pollinator
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Heather, I was in the RD hater camp for most of my life. Then I moved to New Zealand and discovered that there is a variety here with the same name (often sold as Harold red Delicious) that is a really nice eating apple. Big, crisp, without that cloying, mealy sensation that I associate with the US version.

The size, shape and colour all match. After that it's like a different universe. Apparently they were brought here before all the breeding for shelf life and uniformity got out of hand. I may even plant one this year.

Some history: https://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2014/09/the-evil-reign-of-the-red-delicious/379892/
 
pollinator
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Not to defend the grocery stores just to defend them, but I do not think this is the case.

In Maine, they were getting the University of Maine involved in having the apple orchards get storage facilities that helped store Maine's famous Macintosh apples. Then they did a study and found out people did not care for the Macintosh as much as they did for the Red Delicious. It is not my favorite either, but I think grocery stores are stocking what they sell.

In fact, no other location is studied to a science like the American Grocery store. From where certain products are arranged on the shelf, to how the store is laid out; EVERYTHING is designed to sell.

But I do find it ironic that the title of this thread is regarding grocery stores and Diversity. I am pretty sure in 1838, in the middle of February in Maine, Jacks General Store did not have Pineapples for sale.
 
pollinator
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Heather Staas wrote:I'll never understand the popularity of red delicious apples,  those are the WORST tasting fresh eating to me, and no good for cooking either.   Is it ONLY their color and shelf life that appeal or do other people REALLY prefer them over all the others?!



They're my mom's favorite apples.

Let's just say... I grew up hating apples until at 18 I lived with a community that had a very large apple orchard, over 100 different varieties. I had no idea apples could actually taste good!
 
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The diversity issue may even be worse in practice than the Mother Jones chart suggests.  They list 19 varieties of grocery store apples if I'm counting correctly.  I believe I have seen no more than eight of those for sale at any of the stores I've shopped in during my adult life.
 
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Dan Boone wrote:I believe I have seen no more than eight of those for sale at any of the stores I've shopped in during my adult life.


Your recollection matches my own. I'll add that in recent memory I've yet to see more than four types at one time in a given store.
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