Why Buying Small Fruit Can Save California Farms Suffering from Drought

(Last Updated On: June 30, 2015)

Harrow Diamond Peaches

I see ads from grocery stores advertising their JUMBO peaches or claiming they have the LARGEST apples, larger than their competition. Not only is that really meaningless to the consumer, it is exactly hurting the grower. As everyone knows by now California is suffering from a historical drought and one of the biggest suffers is the fruit growers. We as consumers have been taught that big, nice looking fruit is the best fruit. Growers have to use more water for larger fruit. Most of the time I have found that larger fruit doesn’t taste as good. All this extra water is going into making fruit that make look “better” but is inferior in flavor. I say it’s time to start, buying with our tastebuds instead of with our eyes. Our eyes have deceived us and it’s hurting our country’s farmers.

Red Haven Peaches

I recently read a story on Yahoo about a California peach grower – Masumoto family farm. They used 20% to 30% less water this year for their Gold dust peach variety. The fruit was smaller as a result, however the flavor was improved. Despite the better taste, the fruit is not selling in stores. People are passing the smaller fruit by leading to the farm to question whether they should continue growing peaches. People don’t see what they are missing. How unfortunate. The blame lies on both the consumer and the retailer.

What Consumers We Do?
Change our habits. Don’t dismiss a piece of fruit because it doesn’t look that way you think it should. I sadly watched people drool over packages of large strawberries grown on the other side of the country, while they pass by the smaller, much richer tasting strawberries grown less than an hour away. You hear “Wow, how good do those look”. I don’t want to hear that. Let’s eliminate that from our thoughts. Let’s shop for the best tasting fruit. It starts by breaking habits and not just going for the familiar. Don’t be afraid to ask for a sample before you buy – any store worth your time shopping at should be more than willing to oblige.

What Retailers Can Do?
First stop using words that describe the size of the fruit in your ads. Jumbo, large, extra large, mammoth, etc. For me when I see large premium apricots advertised, I can almost be sure the apricots are going to suck. They are going to be low on flavor and mealy. All the large apricots I find have always been bad. The best apricots I have ever had have been the ones I find at farmer’s markets and they are usually have the size of ones found at the grocery store.

Retailers also need to spend more time promoting fruit. Often fruit is left on the shelf because people aren’t familiar with it or it doesn’t look right, but it could be the tasty thing in the store. If you offer customers a sample of great tasting fruit, especially stone fruit, then they will buy, buy, and buy some more. Some effort needs to be put forth.