Is Bigger Better?

by MaxReily

Who decides what sizes food products should be? Why are some food items getting bigger and bigger while others are shrinking? Consider three examples.

Why Not Ask The People Who Buy?

Size does matter!

What marketing wunderkind decided, some time ago, that consumers wanted to buy strawberries  the size of eggs? If you've bought strawberries in a supermarket lately, you've probably noticed that normal-sized strawberries have literally disappeared. Hungry for some old-fashioned juicy red strawberries? Unless you're lucky enough to live near a farmers' market that's open every day, good luck!.

Was this same genius  the one who decided that a single chicken breast should be big enough to feed a family of four? (and that it should also be skinless and boneless) In case you haven't noticed (at least where I live), it's virtually impossible to buy anything but pre-packaged boneless, skinless chicken breasts, each one almost rivaling the size and thickness of a small ham.

At the other end of the spectrum, we have those who are convinced that smaller is better. No doubt they're poised to introduce a tomato the size of a raisin. First they brought us the cherry tomato, then the grape tomato. How much smaller can tomatoes become and still be considered tomatoes? (Hint: I don't consider them that now)

Update 9/3/11: A new food has fallen victim to "sizeadjustment".   

In the grocery store today, I saw them--the new grapes. Packaged in cute little plastic boxes were clusters of grapes--each cluster could easily fit into a standard teacup, with room to spare.. The grapes were the size of peas!

The New Giant Strawberry

Shown approximately half actual size
Huge Strawberry

Don't Expect Them To Look Like This Inside.

They're only red on the outside
Real Strawberries

Why these "mutant" foods?

I see plenty of Cons, no Pros

Palm Sized Strawberries.  The Cons:

1) They're white inside. They're also dry and tasteless.

2) They're so big that they can't just  be cut in half and used for anything--they have to be    chopped into an unrecognizable state.

Mutant Sized Boneless Skinless Chicken Breasts. The Cons:

1) They're so gigantic that they have to be cut up to make normal sized servings.

2) They're so thick that it's hard to get them done through without drying them out

(Sometimes I might actually want a boneless, skinless piece of chicken--but I'd appreciate having the choice!)

Cherry Tomatoes/Grape Tomatoes  The Cons:

1) They're too small  to qualify as tomatoes, yet too big to eat in one bite. Attempting to cut them in half usually results in their being launched from your plate and onto the floor, or your dinner partner.

2) It's impossible to tell by looking whether or not they're spoiled inside. If you give up cutting them and bite into a whole one that turns out to be bad, you're treated to a sudden burst of rotten tomato that completely fills your mouth.

Real Tomatoes

Real tomatoes

Cherry Tomatoes

cherry tomatoes


Can't we have a choice?

Maybe for some unfathomable reason, there are people who like their strawberries huge, dry and tasteless, and their tomatoes tiny and annoying.

Maybe they also like the concept of placing one mammoth sized naked chicken breast on a platter to serve the entire family.

What about the rest of us who prefer our food sized normally--not inconveniently large or small, and with some hint of flavor? Are we being unreasonable? How do food producers even make these mutations? And why? They're certainly not improving anything.

Besides the gargantuan four-to a-quart sized strawberries, couldn't groceries also offer some that still look and taste like strawberries, and maybe even some real tomatoes that are bigger than marbles? 

I live in hope....

Updated: 09/06/2011, MaxReily
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MaxReily on 02/28/2012

Yes, our farmer's market is only open from May to October. Right now, we just have to make do with supermarket fare.

Pinkchic18 on 02/28/2012

The downside of having a winter is my town no longer has a farmer's market. But I would much rather buy organic and local than supermarket any day.

fanfreluche on 09/24/2011

Finding good and tasty veggies and fruits in supermarket anywhere is almost impossible. I now almost exclusively buy at farm market from small producers who don't care if their apple are not calibrated. At least they taste something.

sheilamarie on 08/05/2011

Sad but true. The old American adage "Bigger is better." I guess it's a sign of our psychology. Real food will return when we start to take back our food production, I guess.

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