Since I wrote about the Kiwi fruits which had to be destroyed for being 1/25th inch too short and the EU’s cucumber fetish, the Brussels behemoth has decided that the regulations were all a bit much – well, not all of them, but the majority.
Newspaper editors had fun with their headlines, which included, “Brussels sprouts new rules for vegetables,” “EU finally lets veg shape their own future,” “Lanky leeks welcomed back,” and “EU ban on knobbly fruit and veg to be ‘re-peeled.'”
Don’t rush out to buy misshapen veg just yet, as it will still be a criminal offence to supply them until next summer. Punishment can be up to six months in prison or a £5,000 fine. It makes me wonder how we have allowed ourselves to be enslaved to this degree and in so many different ways.
Mariann Fischer Boel, the European commissioner for agriculture, said, “In these days of high food prices and general economic difficulties, consumers should be able to choose from the widest range of products possible. It makes no sense to throw perfectly good products away, just because they are the ‘wrong’ shape.”
It was clearly OK to do so over the past twenty years while countless millions of people in the world died of starvation.
Many people in the EU fought the change in law. A spokesman for an Italian farmers’ association, CIA, said:
“Today’s decision is an extremely serious error that unfortunately penalises Italian producers, along with those in other Mediterranean countries such as Spain and Greece.
The same article states that, “the United Kingdom and other, largely northern European, countries had lobbied for the repeal of the regulations, with British supermarkets claiming they had to throw away some 40% of edible fruit and vegetables because of visual flaws under the EU rules.”
According to the Times, “One branch of Sainsbury’s had planned to sell “zombie brain” cauliflowers and “witches’ fingers” carrots for Hallowe’en this year until it found out that individual managers could face prosecution.
“Patrick Holden, director of the Soil Association, which champions organic produce, said that his own organic carrots grown in the hills of west Wales were rejected by Sainsbury’s for being “too wonky” two years ago.
“This will be a fantastic step, especially for organic growers,” he said. “We are about inner quality, not outer appearance.”
According to the EU, the ten products which will still be subject to regulations: apples, citrus fruit, kiwi fruit, lettuces, peaches and nectarines, pears, strawberries, sweet peppers, table grapes and tomatoes, could also sidestep standards rules if they are sold with an appropriate label, for example, to indicate they are suitable for cooking.
So there we have it: less interference from the EU and less food wasted (cheaper prices?) so a good deal all round, unless you’re Italian…