ROBERT SIEGEL, host:
A new day is dawning in Europe for misshapen fruits and vegetables. The European Union has rescinded some 20-year-old regulations that protected European grocery shoppers from the sight of bendy cucumbers, knobbly carrots, puny cauliflowers, naked onions and assorted other offenses to the European eye. It has evidently been a pillar of EU food regs that ugly produce is unworthy of the marketplace and they've been throwing out a lot of nutritious but unsightly food ever since. Joining us to talk about this is Diana Henry, who is food columnist for the Sunday Telegraph and also host of her own TV cooking show. Welcome to the program.
Ms. DIANA HENRY (Food Columnist, Sunday Telegraph; Author, "Pure Simple Cooking"): Hello.
SIEGEL: And what do you make of ugly produce de-reg?
Ms. HENRY: I am thrilled. Honestly, here it is 32 degrees today, that's in the 90s which probably seems kind of low for you, but here we are sweltering. The economy is going to hell in a handcart. And now we know that we can actually use knobbly fruit and vegetables that we've kind of like missed and loved. So they're back. I think it's great. I'm just sorry that they've taken regulations away from 26 fruit and vegetables, but there are still 10 that are going to be very much scrutinized, and I would quite like it if they could all be kind of de-regged as well.
SIEGEL: And the ones that are still to be regulated, they're not minor vegetables. We're talking about apples and citrus and kiwi and lettuce.
Ms. HENRY: Yeah. They still have to be 50 millimeters in diameter to be considered a true apple. And things like citrus fruit, peaches and nectarines -I think what's a pity about that is it's like bureaucrats are telling us what's a perfect peach. And I think a perfect peach is actually a very elusive thing, and it doesn't always have to do with how it looks at all.
SIEGEL: But tell me the truth, if you're doing your cooking show on television...
Ms. HENRY: Yes.
SIEGEL: ...and you have the choice to use a cucumber that's fairly straight or one that looks like a green knockwurst, you're going to pick the one that looks better, aren't you?
Ms. HENRY: You're right. It's kind of part of that thing I suppose, because when I do the cooking show, the vegetables and the fruit look perfect, that continues that kind of notion that that's the way they should look. But they will not necessarily be the ones that taste good.
SIEGEL: But without holding you to account for the thinking of the European commission, what was the idea behind banning the forked multi-rooted carrot? What was seen as the problem there?
Ms. HENRY: I just think in Brussels they're quite bored and just don't know what to do with their time. But I have to say that the problem in Britain with this is that we seem to me to be quite law-abiding. I go to France and I go to Portugal, and they don't care what shape their tomatoes are, and they don't care what shape their cucumbers are. They seem to think, well, it's just laws and we'll break them. That's quite the Mediterranean spirit, in a way. But in Britain, we tend to slavishly follow them.
SIEGEL: Well, Diana Henry, thank you very much for talking with us.
Ms. HENRY: You're welcome.
SIEGEL: That's Diana Henry, food columnist for the Sunday Telegraph newspaper in London. And one rule that has not changed according to the European commission is this: the bend of a banana must be, and I quote, "the thickness of a transverse section of the fruit between the lateral faces and the middle, perpendicular to the longitudinal axis must be at a minimum of 27 millimeters," which is 1.06 inches.
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