Tuesday, June 17, 2008

What's Wrong With Wonky Wares?

Europeans ought to be told that wonky fruits and vegetables do not cause misshapen bodies. The sagging weights in their chests are not due to an overripe papaya, nor are the waves of fat in their bottoms caused by giant pumpkins; but by the voracious appetite and fancy for sweets that has left a sour look on their faces in the mirror. It is a combination of volume, type and manner of food they eat, regardless of its shapely look, plus a sedentary lifestyle, that cause bulges and flabs across a wide surface of wrinkled and freckled skin.

At a time when growing demand, food scarcity and high prices is drastically changing the shape and physical appearance of the poorest populations in the world, Europeans worry about the form and size of what they consume and discard those that are not according to standard. The first known European standard was devised by Hitler when he was developing the look and structure of the genuine Aryan Race for the new German order. Little is known if they were fed standard sized fruits and vegetables. But the European Commission wanted to loosen the implementation of these requirements that prevent distorted items from being sold alongside the more shapely ones. This effort has been resisted by many EU member countries.

The Europeans are fond of complicated rules for food, much like the Neapolitan Pizza certification that requires specific sources of tomatoes, buffalo milk for the mozzarella, among others; and the commission wanted to simplify these by removing unnecessary standards to cut red tape. But their complex marketing rules have prevailed, even if it has generated debates that rival nuclear disarmament, on how straight a banana should be or how much curvature will be allowed for a cucumber. No doubt, a series of discussions that will shake the world out of its axis.

The Commission has conceded to put a special label on such fruits and vegetables as "For use in cooking" only. Thus, the poor fruit or vegetable will experience discrimination and labeling. But even this concession was denied. The thing is, even with such a label, will not the fruit or vegetable also be eaten even if cooked? Will cooking reshape these or would its dangerous properties be removed by heat? Or is it just aesthetics that matter? This concession looked sillier than the resistance to it.

Is there some superstition behind the standards that ensures no freaky looking products are sold in Europe? Certainly, these products cannot take the blame for Europe's share of freaks in its history, nor the freaky calamities that passed the continent and caused much suffering. But Europeans have always been particular about how they do things and the tested ways in which their methods are formulated. For them, the traditions and the purity of the process ensures the quality of the European brand. Tradition is continuity, and therein lies the assurance that a succession of generations will propagate the values, ethics and attitudes of their esteemed ancestry. The family name and coat of arms endures, and the legacy lives on.

It is a legacy that people from the African and Asian continents should be familiar with. A legacy of European colonialism that is summed up as indifference to the colonies' plight, and deference for the colonials' interests and standards. And while people in Africa and Asia are starving to death, Europeans want to discard the freaky food items. It's difficult to tell which ones are the real freaks eh?



Kim said...

I have heard it all now Durano...
that reminds me that I'm going to have to look for more attractive fresh ginger in the future ..lol...
how ridiculous...an Aryan race of vegetables....oh dear I don't think the poor old spud will fair well in the Miss Universe of Edibles :)

SheR. said...

I've seen all these on TV. It was reported that potato farmers are the most affected. Supermarkets only want to buy those "perfect" potatoes. So what happens to the imperfect ones? They get discarded. Tons of them. What a waste isn't it? So there comes the Organic Food movement where imperfection is not frowned upon but praised. But these labels they wear bear a heavy price. What can the poor farmers do?

The Fitness Diva said...

Just plain crazy. Why? When people who are starving would relish the very taste, smell AND sight of these rejected, "not good enough for the civilized" foodstuffs. What in the heck?
Those in control are just insane.

Why is it that the silliest, most irrational people are always the ones in charge?

Zhu said...

Europeans are picky with food. See the "feta" scandal (only Greek can name their fete "feta"!), the various regulations etc.

But on the other side, I like the way MGO food is clearly labeled (unlike in Canada where there is no policy on the subject). In Canada, the food lobby does whatever he wants...

durano lawayan a.k.a. brad spit said...

Hello Kim,
"an Aryan race of vegetables...I don't think the poor old spud will fair well in the Miss Universe of Edibles"

That's a very funny comment Kim and frankly I never thought about connecting the two.

Europeans are really something when it comes to traditions. Oh those ancestors of ours! LOL! :-) --Durano, done!

durano lawayan a.k.a. brad spit said...

Hi Sher,

This truly is a ton of waste, when people are starving. I think farmers, especially potato farmers, should organize their own marketing caravans to sell the imperfect items to the lower income sections of the cities and suburbs.

Or, they could organize communities to receive these items on a daily or weekly basis. The direct approach would even make these items more affordable and better patronized. :-) --Durano, done!

durano lawayan a.k.a. brad spit said...

Hi Fitness Diva,

Well, the Commissioner of the EC wanted to loosen the stringent standards, at least he's one person in charge who has empathy with poorer populations of the world.

All other EC member countries' representatives who rejected his proposal are the ones in charge in their respective states, and you're right, they are irrational are the ones who are the freaks in this world. :-) --Durano, done!

durano lawayan a.k.a. brad spit said...

Hi Zhu,

That's one thing positive about the Europeans - their discipline and honesty in labeling their food as organic or GMO.

But it doesn't lessen the irrationality of discarding food simply because it is not curved enough or straight enough, nor of the standard size. This is just plain wasteful and capricious. :-) --Durano, done!

A. said...

Am I the first European to join the discussion? The crooked cucumbers and bendy bananas have always been available but as class II. They have never been banned. Most of this furore has been promoted by Europhobia. Many of the regulations were set up to simplify things.

And if you are wondering what happens to less than perfect potatoes, though I see plenty of them in the shops and markets round our way, I would guess they go to making mash, chips, crisps, potato based snacks. Please don't believe we spend our time throwing away good food when people are starving. It's not all a case of "let them eat cake", which was misreported too.

durano lawayan a.k.a. brad spit said...

Hi a,

I appreciate your comments and welcome your disagreements. You are not the only European here. Zhu is French-Italian who now resides in Canada, while Sher is living in Croatia and is married to a Croatian.

The European Commissioner himself reported that he wanted to relax the "stringent rules so that misshapen items could be sold alongside the perfect ones". He also suggested the label "For use in cooking only" to get the other members to agree - to no avail.

As I mentioned to Sher, the misshapen items may be sold in secondary markets, perhaps this is what you mean about the markets around your way that you mentioned.

The European Commissioner also stated his sensitivity to the scarcity of food globally as his motive for the relaxation of rules, rather than discard the imperfect produce.

However, I never believed that all Europeans throw away good food when other people are starving. I know that there are many who would disagree with their own government's policies - you being one of those who cannot stomach such waste. But there are people in position who push policies that are insensitive to other people's plight yet represent their country's voice. This is what needs to be guarded against.

Thanks for your comment, and you're welcome anytime! :-) --Durano, done!