Perhaps in the long run, historians will consider this as the official end of modernity as we knew it: The comeback of the wonky cucumber, abnormally bent banana, and comedy carrots, at least in the EU.
As of July 2009, the European Commission abolished more than two dozen laws that have stipulated the look of Europe’s fruit and vegetables – including Brussels sprouts – for the past 20 years. A majority of EU member states, including Britain and Ireland, have voted to reform rules like EC Commission Regulation No 2257/94, which stipulate that only the most perfect-looking produce adorns supermarket shelves and caused international ridicule by stating that all bananas must be “free of abnormal curvature” and at least 14 cm in length.
As a result of the EU rules the supermarket chain Sainsbury’s was forced to withdraw its promotion of discount Halloween-themed vegetables, fearing that its managers could find themselves with a criminal record for selling non-standard produce.
The regulation triggered campaigns by environmental groups such as Friends of the Earth and supermarket giants. Retailers in Europe say at least one-fifth of fruit and vegetables is was being wasted as a result of the regulations and expect prices to come down by up to 40 per cent. Although the rules have been changed for 26 fruits and vegetables – including aubergines, apricots, cherries, garlic, leeks, peas, spinach and watermelon – marketing standards will remain for 10 types, which account for three-quarters of produce sold in the EU, including apples, kiwi fruit, tomatoes, strawberries and lettuce. The Commission, though, says that shops would be exempted from the rules so long as these products are labeled as “product intended for processing”.