It is a bright and gorgeously sunny September morning and the maples outside my window are just beginning to try out the autumn oranges and reds, here and there on the branch ends. The sky is blue, the air is chill, and I am having breakfast. Proverbially, the most important meal of the day.
Well, I am not actually convinced that it is the most important one (I prefer to think of all meals as important, if they should be eaten at all), but it is certainly as important as any other meal, and I am a firm believer in eating rather than not eating.
My office breakfasts tend to vary very little throughout the year. I have coffee with copious amounts of whole milk (calcium and calories – and I do consider my milk intake as “food”, much like the rest of full-fat dairy I favour), I have a handful of nuts (today, those are rather amazing new-season fresh shelled pecans which I had started to eat absentmindedly and had to stop myself before the entire bag was gone), and I have whole fresh fruit.
Typically, the sort of fruit that is a: good in the current season, and b: easy to eat off the whole fruit without a knife. The seasonality has less to do with food air miles and environmental consciousness (though it incidentally help with those as well), and more with the fact that fruit tastes best when in season (you need only think of pale and watery mid-winter strawberries and apricots flown in refrigerated from gods-know-how-far to know what I mean). So for me, it ends up being stone fruit in the summer, and apples/pears in the winter.
Regardless of season, I buy the fruit in a punnet or picking from a supermarket fruit rack, or from a street fruit-and-veg stall, depending on what catches my eye on the way to work – but one way I do not buy it, is pre-chopped and packaged. The reason for that is not just because most pre-packaged fruit looks sad and soggy in its sealed plastic containers, and must be refrigerated to not go off quickly. Or, not the main reason – I do prefer my fruit to taste and feel fresh and have crunch if the fruit is of the crunchy variety, but the main reason is that the moment you cut or peel a fruit (or a vegetable, but less so as those tend to be less juicy and so leak less), it begins to deteriorate. Raw fruit, especially if cut and in presence of oxygen, deteriorates very fast, because its own enzymes released from the cells broken by the cutting and peeling, begin to break down the fruit tissue, degrading nutrients along with the taste and texture.
Not to mention that the prepared and boxed stuff is far more expensive than the same amount of (better tasting) fruit that has not been processed. Now, if the fruit you favour is pineapple or melon, those are simply too much bother to try to peel and chop and eat at work from whole. I do like them, but I tend to eat them at home because of it, in proximity to large chopping boards, sharp knives, and a sink to wash the sticky juice off myself afterwards, but if you simply can’t do without those at work, then the prepared boxes are your best bet.
This is not to say that if you hate to bite off a nectarine or apple, you shouldn’t buy and eat the chopped and peeled variety. It is still better to eat the fruit than not. But me, I am happy to chomp inelegantly at the whole fruit, washing it down with coffee, in particular since I am alone in my office and no one is watching my table manners critically the whole time.