Monday, November 10, 2008

You can have any fruit you wish as long as it is banana, apple or orange

It was true everywhere, but I began to notice it only after Rupal pointed it out. We had just come out of a fruiteria (a roadside fruit vendor) with some bananas in Piste in Mexico.
“The variety of fruits we can buy seems to be going down,” my wife said. She should know because she really looks forward to eating tropical fruits. In my case, I eat fruits because they are healthy, but Rupal actually prefers fruits over packaged snacks.

Soon after she mentioned this I saw evidence of this everywhere. While vendors did carry a few token samples of exotic fruit, mostly they all carried just the big three: bananas, apples and oranges. In the last four months of fairly hectic travel (Europe, Asia and N. America) this has been the case everywhere.

Slowly, the whole fruit-buying population is getting squeezed down to just these three fruits. I haven’t researched this, but my hunch is that this is the rich-get-richer power-law phenomenon applied to fruit selling. (The more famous applications of this power law curve include Netflicks DVD rental choices, Digg posts and the number of edits by Wikipedians.)

The fruit vendors stock more of whatever sells, and the buyers buy more of whatever fresh is out on display. Just be sure to buy some papayas, jackfruit and custard apples before they disappear altogether.

Here are a couple of related links:

-- Per Capita Consumption of Principal Foods (in pounds)
-- Did you know that there is a Fruit and Nut yearbook? (In 2006, Americans consumed 25 lbs of bananas per capita, followed by apples 17 lbs and oranges came third among fresh fruit.)

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