When shopping in the market the other day with my normal grocery list, I walked down the aisle and saw foods, that for a period of time, I hadn’t seen in months. Fruits, certain vegetables, berries, and squashes to name a few were all stacked on their various shelves at Wegmans. It was such a relief seeing these foods were still available. Sometimes I fear walking in to the store and seeing that the market no longer carries them.
For some of the younger generations reading this, you might be asking why is it a big deal to see fruits and berries on the shelves? To answer that, there used to be a time when I would think to myself, “Are we ever going to see fruits and vegetables again?” The reason being, that bees used to be major pollinators of foods but when the Colony Collapse Disorder took effect, these food groups were no longer available when the bee population declined. With the recent strategies that have developed however, I sometimes forget that bees even existed. I imagine that one day, some smart man got fed up with not having his berries anymore and finally decided to develop a way to pollinate and bring back our foods. Since then we have largely had our food supplies returned to us thanks to two main strategies:
Yes, two completely different tasks that we use, yet two ways that we are now able to enjoy the foods we once had to live without. One natural process and one artificial process I’d say. To start with the more humanly influenced (artificial) process of hand pollination. The Chinese were largely responsible for using this process years ago to maintain the pollination of crops. Since then, we have begun to learn how to use the process for our own benefits in this country. Humans are responsible for shaking the buds and flowers daily to ensure that pollen is moved across plants in addition to that of wind pollination.
We have also developed the natural process of using butterflies. Like bees, butterflies are responsible for carrying the pollen on their bodies to other plants and thus pollinate the crops and flowers. Scientists have begun to establish ways of controlling the butterflies into more colony like groups and transporting them to areas for pollination.
After all that time without our core foods, it is no surprise that we have developed replacement methods. It was almost a necessity to find some way to pollinate crops so that we would be able to enjoy the natural foods we once loved. It wasn’t the same natural world without natural foods.
That being said there is no denying that with the reappearance of fruits and berries, it comes with a price. Pun intended, since the price for these foods is almost double now than it used to be. Hand pollination and butterfly use are valid methods that have gotten the job done and have put foods back on the shelves, but they do present problems compared to bee pollination. Currently, our efficiency with pollination is nowhere near what it was with bees, which has caused problems in the supply industry. The limited supply is due to a lack of efficiency in that we cannot get butterflies to pollinate in masses like bees and hand pollination is long and daunting process which requires time and labor. These inefficiencies have caused prices to spike greatly. Humans understand that there is a price to be paid however and are willing to accommodate just so that we can even have the option of buying these foods again. Overall, my daily routine in the market hasn’t changed much, thanks to still natural processes like butterfly pollination I am still able to buy fruits just with a little extra cost.