The scourge of pre-peeled, pre-packaged produce and subsequent internet outrage has become a recurring part of modern life. You might know of The Great $6 Asparagus Water Incident of 2015. Well, US supermarket chain Whole Foods refuses to back down from its privileged perch. Earlier this week, the market dared to place pre-peeled oranges on shelves frequented by social media users. The indignity suffered by these naked oranges (tangerines, actually) was first spotted by a Twitter user who posted the plastic-enrobed fruit and launched the latest pre-peeled, pre-packaged outrage anew.
If only nature would find a way to cover these oranges so we didn't need to waste so much plastic on them. pic.twitter.com/00YECaHB4D
— Nathalie Gordon (@awlilnatty) March 3, 2016
But look closer. These are not simply peeled oranges in plastic. These were "Made right here!" by a certified Whole Foods citrus artisan who spent an afternoon skilfully plying the knob atop each mandarin until it broke free in a delicate spray of oil, tenderly unfurling both pith and peel from the segments beneath without releasing the sweet juice encased within. The consumer need only break the fruit free from its jewel-like box and put the sumo mandarin to her lips. Quite frankly, $US5.99 per pound ($17.76 per kilogram) is a steal for such a culinary feat. (Although you are right to ask — why aren't these organic?)
After this tweet had circulated the globe several times, Whole Foods made a baffling move. It apologised!
@awlilnatty Definitely our mistake. These have been pulled. We hear you, and we will leave them in their natural packaging: the peel.
— Whole Foods Market (@WholeFoods) March 3, 2016
And the naked oranges were pulled from stores! A Whole Foods statement to Eater reports:
A lot of our customers love the convenience of our cut produce offerings, but this was a simple case where a handful of stores experimented with a seasonal product spotlight that wasn't fully thought through. We're glad some customers pointed it out so we could take a closer look.
A closer look might reveal a cornucopia of fruits on the very same shelf: oranges not only peeled but sliced by this steady unseen hand, meticulously arranged in even larger plastic containers, each awaiting their turn to be shuffled into reusable organic cotton tote bags alongside dozens of other responsibly sourced plastic-wrapped foods and driven in fossil fuel-consuming vehicles to their new homes.
Top photo by Nathalie Gordon