US Supermarket Chain Apologises For Making Oranges More Convenient

Whole Foods Apologizes for Making Oranges More Convenient

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.

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!

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.

Whole Foods Apologizes for Making Oranges More Convenient
Whole Foods Apologizes for Making Oranges More Convenient
Whole Foods Apologizes for Making Oranges More Convenient


Top photo by Nathalie Gordon



    I think there is a genuine misunderstanding here, the tweeter is obviously very concerned with our dwindling plastic reserves. Plastic is a precious and scarce resource and supermarkets really need to take responsibility for their actions. Why can't they just go and cut down a whole lot of trees and encase those Tangerines in paper ?

    The peeled oranges are stupid, but the cut up fruit is not. One of the reasons that people choose packaged processed foods over natural foods is consistency. I've never had a bag of chips go bad, or cookies or any of that. They always taste the same. But with fruit and vegetables, it's a lot more difficult, you have to figure out when they're ripe and different items will ripen at different rates, even different varieties of the same fruit will have different indicators or when they will taste the best. How many times have you cut open an apple/watermelon/whatever and found that it was bad? By having it cut up and in serving sizes, people are more likely to buy fruit because they know someone who knows something about fruit (at least by working with it every day they already know more than the average consumer) has cut all the bad bits out and put them in to portions for easy consumption and in some cases mixed with other fruit that goes well. So it just becomes an issue of healthy eating vs being more ecologically sustainable. I think that it's a good initial step to get people to eat better, we don't have to do it forever (the price will steer people towards doing all that themselves) but it's a good way to compete with processed food.

      I find the pre cut fruit salads are full of under ripe fruit. It's horrible. Supermarkets just want to make as much profit as possible so instead of throwing out unsellable fruit, they cut it up and stick it in a plastic container so the lazy will buy it.

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