Globally, agriculture is not only big business – it is also industrial business. It encompasses the increasing use of the genetics of plant stock, water-saving micro and nano irrigation, waste-reducing targeted nutrient supply and pesticide application and post-harvest ‘ripening facilities’. It also entails the need for new IT systems to monitor and ensure traceability of every batch of avocados, macadamia nuts or oranges to meet demanding phyto-sanitary regulations, the complex logistics and infrastructure of packhouses, ports and airport cold storage, as well as sophisticated advances in packaging, labelling, and branding. All these processes and technologies amount to the industrialisation of freshness.
Even an apparently unprocessed macadamia nut – not the kernel but the ‘nut in shell’ that is the preferred way to package and sell macadamias in China, in bags with the branding phrase ‘New expression of the daintiness’ – is carefully manufactured. Optical sorting machines and more basic water tank equipment are used to work out whether the nuts hidden within the kernels are spoilt by nut borers or short-nosed stinkbugs. There is also a ‘processing’ step in making a small incision in the shell to make it easier to pass round the table and prise open.