Leading article: When class two is first class

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The Independent Online

Sometimes an idea is so simple and sensible, you wonder why it has taken so long to be recognised. Waitrose supermarkets are launching a range of "class two" fruit today at discounted prices, which will be marketed for use in cooking. To which we can only respond, what took them so long? And why are all the other supermarkets not rushing to sell slightly imperfect fruit?

For years, we, the customers, have had to listen as a cacophony of arguments has gone on over our heads. The Government wants us to eat five portions of fruit and vegetables a day and spends large amounts of money encouraging us to do so. The supermarkets would like to sell us as much fruit and veg as we can eat; they too spend lavishly on selling their wares.

For some reason, though, what they offer us has become increasingly vacuum-packed, tasteless and expensive. Government or EU regulation is cited for dictating the size and shape of fruit down to minutiae. Customer preference is another favourite reason: supposedly we want a lavish choice of produce, including out of season, and we won't buy fruit or vegetables that are any less than picture perfect.

Oh, won't we? Well now, at least, our priorities are being put to the test. We would like to bet that the class two plums and strawberries at Waitrose will be a resounding success, and that other supermarkets will follow suit. Just give us fruit and veg in their multiplicity of natural shapes and sizes and let us choose what to buy. Why should appearance be the only gauge of what constitutes a good apple? We would prefer one that tastes good any day.

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