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“The arc of the moral universe is long,” declared Dr. Martin Luther King, Junior, “but it bends toward justice.”
It never occurred to the Rev. King that his inspiring call for a better world could eventually bring a sort of liberation even to rutabagas, cauliflowers, and kiwis – but so be it. On December 1st, the European Union ended years of mindless discrimination against misshapened and oddly-sized fruits and vegetables. EU regulators, infamous for their focus on minutiae, have long decreed that a forked carrot cannot mix with their perfectly-straight cousins in supermarket bins, that green asparagus in not allowed to be more than 20 percent un-green, and that the degree of curvature in a banana determines its legal status and social rank.
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The long nightmare for these edibles is now over, however, for the European Union has repealed its discriminatory regulations on 26 types of fruits and veggies. As the European commissioner of agriculture said in a misty-eyed statement: “This marks a new dawn for the curvy cucumber and knobbly carrot.”
Still, however, the struggle for freedom is not fully realized, for ten other items of produce have attained only limited deregulation. If a grocer’s kiwis, for example, are four hundredths of an inch smaller than standard size, they can only be sold if they bear a sticker that stigmatizes them as substandard.
Meanwhile, not everyone is thrilled with the EU’s liberation movement. Indeed, many of the member nations voted against the change, arguing that eliminating European standards will allow supermarket chains to impose their own hodge-podge of discriminatory rules – even requiring , for example, perfectly straight bananas.
So the struggle must continue, until all fruits and all vegetables in all lands are free of either governmental or corporate bias. Let the march of freedom roll on!
“Europe Relaxes Rules on Sale Of Ugly Fruits and Vegetables,” The New York Times, November 13, 2008.
E.U. Gives a Pass to Vegetables That Don’t Measure Up,” The Washington Post, December 2, 2008.