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Government Protects You From... Small Grapefruits?

Government wraps its seemingly endless fingers around almost all facets of our lives. “Safety” and “public interest” are cited as unquestionable benefits of government expansion.

However, regulations sometimes seem so detached from the public interest that you pause and laugh. The Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced that it’s slightly relaxing the legally allowable diameter for grapefruits sold in grocery stores to “meet consumer demands.”

Undoubtedly this is a good move, but why is government measuring our grapefruits in the first place? We’re told that government has its citizens best interests in mind, but there’s no safety risk posed by smaller grapefruits. We know as much since USDA now allows them and cites no prior or resolved concerns that justified the initial diameter requirement.

Instead, USDA cites Hurricane Irma’s damage on Florida citrus crops and thriving market demand as factors behind legalizing smaller grapefruits. USDA’s new rule reduces its minimum grapefruit diameter requirement from 3.83 inches to 3 inches.

So, by the grace of government, consumers can enjoy the freedom to bite into juicy 3-inch grapefruits.

One is left wondering what might be so grossly unsafe about 2.75-inch grapefruits. Maybe they’re inadequately juicy or too fleshy. Sounds like a serious medical concern for grapefruit eaters that government should resolve! Unfortunately, what seems like obvious sarcasm to some, is taken seriously by bureaucrats.

There’s a simple solution to this “problem” that doesn’t involve government. It’s called the free market. Consumers will buy grapefruits in sizes to their liking. Those deemed by consumer demand as “too small” for purchase will be discarded. And it’s likely that producers will stop growing grapefruits in sizes that consumers don’t want since doing so is unprofitable.

It’s a simple solution with no government needed!

There’s no conceivable benefit in regulating the size of grapefruits. Some may retort that USDA wants to limit “waste” by eliminating products that consumers are unlikely to buy. This concern is unwarranted because USDA says consumers are willing to buy smaller grapefruits. If consumers weren’t willing to buy them, there’d be no need to regulate them.

Plus, clementine oranges are small citrus fruits – and guess what – people eat them! Yum. Think of grapefruits the next time someone says government knows your best interests. Your interest is not mandating the diameter of delicious fruits.

That leaves one question – in whose best interest was this draconian regulation? Nobody knows for sure, but it’s easy to imagine how it could play out. Maybe smaller grapefruit orchards grow smaller fruits compared to their big competitors. Big competitors could have lobbied for regulations to weed out competition. Maybe the same scenario could apply to US growers vs foreign competitors. Or, maybe government is plainly incompetent.

Who knows? The point is that the regulation didn’t help you. So, enjoy your newly downsized grapefruits, but remember, government shouldn’t pick fruit sizes at all!