What’s wrong with this picture?

That’s what we wanted to know about the picture below when a group of us from the Eastern Canada Farm Writers Association recently paid a visit to an onion farm in the Holland Marsh. To us, it seemed like a bin of perfectly good onions, just waiting for someone to bag, buy, cook and eat.

But that’s not so, according to Jamie Reaume, Executive Director of the Holland Marsh Growers Association. Judge for yourself:

“If it’s not perfect, it can’t go to retail even though the taste is the same,” he explained as he cut into one of the reject onions for us. “Any onion without skin or with marks on them won’t make the grade.”

Consumers, and in turn retailers, have become very demanding when it comes to what food should look like, he says, adding that this leads to tons of fine-tasting produce ending up being composted.

There’s a great story in the Toronto Star today by Jennifer Bain about Holland Marsh farmer Avia Eek, and they talk about this very issue, if you’re curious to know more.

Eek is a social media fan, using Twitter to spread the word about food and farming. Often she tweets about what she’s doing on the farm, including grading onions. This is what caught Bain’s attention and led to the profile in today’s paper.

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