Today consumers go to the grocery stores and can buy almost any item they would like. Specifically for fruits, we can find blueberries, strawberries, bananas and even starfruit for a majority of the year. But how do these fruits get to our local grocery stores?
There is an infrastructure, a system of organizational and physical structures that supports the possibility of starfruit in Michigan. It can be broken down into three layers:
Top layer: Is the fact that we can walk into a Kroger, Meijer or Whole Foods and put a starfruit in our cart.
Bottom layer: The fruit is grown on trees native to the Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia, India, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka, but has also expanded to be cultivated throughout non-indigenous tropical areas, such as in Latin America, the Caribbean and southern parts of the U.S. such as Texas, Florida, Puerto Rico and Hawaii.
In any of these cases the fruit is not grown in Michigan and so we have to think about the middle layer of services that connect these.
Middle layer: Thinking through the steps of a starfruit tree being seeded to the fruit being placed on the shelves of a grocery store here, it involves the workers who grow and cultivate the fruit, customs and export control agencies, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), shipping companies, and grocery stores who stock the fruit.
The FDA is involved because they set the standards for food regulations in the United States. For instance even though Malaysia is a global leader in starfruit production and probably produce better starfruit being a native location, whole starfruits cannot be imported to the U.S. due to concerns over pests and pathogens.
Starfruit commercial cultivation has not always been an established infrastructure. The fruits popularity and broad consumer acceptance really only took off about 40 years ago in the 1970’s, however the middleware involved has been longer established because it is the same services that are used for most all other non-locally grown fruits and food items we can buy in our grocery stores.