So why does a strawberry cost as much as 10 smartphones? It takes an incredible amount of work to produce perfect fruit. Crown muskmelons get little hats to prevent the sun from burning them. Farmers with gloves rub the melons each day to make sure they grow evenly.
And, of course, watermelons don’t grow in heart shapes naturally. After the melons reach a certain size, farmers place them in special boxes to shape them exactly right.
Even then, only the very best fruit makes it to the Tokyo stores. Ruby Roman grapes can sell for $800 a bunch—but they have to weigh at least 20 grams each, and their juice has to contain 18 percent sugar or more.
And how about those crown melons? They’re each given a grade for shape and color. Only 1 in 1,000 earn the highest grade.
That’s OK. It means you don’t have to be a millionaire to eat strawberry shortcake. There’s plenty of fruit left over for ordinary grocery stores. But you won’t find any heart-shaped melons there.
If you want that perfect Valentine’s Day present, be prepared to pay.