The Fruit Pandemic

by Rina Bell Bileski

Who injured my beloved grapefruits? Who assaulted my lovely pomelos? I know they are in pain, constantly bleeding, beaten and angry. Worse, I no longer recognize their taste. The once tart, juicy yellow-faced grapefruit was nowhere to be found. Since I ceased consuming my smiley tangy friend for years, I found comfort in green Pomelos.

To my horror, my lovely Pomelo met the same fate. Its skin was no longer green, its reddish flesh tasted flat, and the unique flavor that separated the two fruits from one another was gone. Both met my palate with unrecognizable mash.

I was raised on a kibbutz surrounded by citrus groves. I could tell a mandarin from a clementine, and a blood orange from a Jaffa orange with my eyes closed. The scent and taste indicated what I ingested. There was no need for sweetener for my beloved grapefruits, I loved them just the way they were.

Some of my academic achievements followed study sessions under a grapefruit tree. The mandarins provoked my curiosity. The ugly fruit rejuvenated my fatigued brain. Fruit has always been an integral ingredient of my wellbeing. I became extremely agitated as the Weight Watchers diet allowed only three fruits per day. Meat and chicken became secondary to apples and grapes.

Previously, during the long winter months, I found solace in citrus. I drowned my cravings in apples and pears. My comfort didn’t live long. Pink Lady, Jazz, Envy, and Pizazz are only a few offsprings of real apples. In all honesty, they all taste the same to me. The horticulturists screwed around with the noble apple natural genes. Incestuous relationships produce defective bastards. 

As for grapes, they did become colossal, inflated with water, deflated in taste. The Israeli Muscat grapes were so unique, I have never found their likes in forty-five years. How I pray and hope to find them in the condition I left them.

Grapes and pomegranates were among the seven sorts which the land of Canaan had been blessed with, so said the Bible. For thousands of years, they lived in harmony with nature and people who enjoyed them. Why fix something that isn’t broken?   

Adding insult to injury, a bag of Kara Kara oranges I purchased had been infected by the same fruit pandemic; a blushed orange, unappealing to the palate. Like apples, they joined their citrus relatives by adopting a similar bland flavor. This narrowed my choices to ever enjoy any citrus growth. The only naturally red citrus, the blood orange, also underwent a taste reduction.

I am yearning for an explanation: what is the purpose of the mutilation? Have people’s taste buds gone array? Am I the only person on the face of the earth to notice the decline of fruit? We already lost plenty. Please, put an end to the destruction of nature and salvage the surviving species before they all bleed to death.

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