Good news for bent carrots

Trip Start Jan 30, 2007
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Trip End Dec 31, 2011


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Flag of Belgium  ,
Thursday, November 13, 2008

Today I harvested a dozen or so carrots, put in the ground earlier this year. Some grew well, others didn't make much progress, or were found to be eaten by some kind of worm.

None of my carrots were straight. Or even symmetrical.

While they didn't look great, they did taste fantastic: sweet, crisp, tender.

By strange coincidence, there was some news from Europe that means I could step up production and flood the European Union with my bent carrots.

Those suits in Brussels at the EU have finally seen some sense.

EU to allow 'wonky' fruit and veg on supermarket shelves

BRUSSELS (AFP) - EU nations on Wednesday gave the green light Monday for bent cucumbers and other 'wonky' fruit and vegetables to be sold in supermarkets and elsewhere, as part of a drive to cut red tape.

"This is a happy day indeed for the curvy cucumber and the knobbly carrot, and other amusingly shaped fruits and vegetables," said European Commission spokesman Michael Mann.

"Rules governing the size and shape of fruit and vegetables will be consigned to history", the commission said in a statement.

In all, marketing standards for 26 fruits and vegetables are being scrapped, paving the way for the return to shopping trolleys of forked carrots, onions that are less than two thirds covered with skin and the bent cucumbers among other deviant vegetables.

The rules had been derided as "bonkers" by the likes of major British supermarket chain Sainsbury's, while major agricultural nations such as France have argued that scrapping the restrictions will lead to a fall in prices and thereby hit farmers.

"This marks a new dawn for the curvy cucumber and the knobbly carrot," said EU Agriculture Commissioner Mariann Fischer Boel.

"It's a concrete example of our drive to cut unnecessary red tape. We simply don't need to regulate this sort of thing at EU level. It is far better to leave it to market operators."

She added that in the current climate of high food prices and economic woes "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."

Representatives of most EU countries voted against the rule change, but not by the overwhelming "qualified majority" required to stop it going through, a commission spokesman said.

The rules are to be scrapped for apricots, artichokes, asparagus, aubergines, avocados, beans, Brussels sprouts, carrots, cauliflowers, cherries, courgettes, cucumbers, cultivated mushrooms, garlic, hazelnuts in shell, headed cabbage, leeks, melons, onions, peas, plums, ribbed celery, spinach, walnuts in shell, water melons, and chicory.

Standards are kept in place for 10 others, including several of the most popular items in European kitchens; apples, citrus fruit, kiwi fruit, lettuces, peaches and nectarines, pears, strawberries, sweet peppers, table grapes and tomatoes.

Mann explained that these were being maintained as a compromise to opposed member states, while assuring that there was "practically no difference" between the two categories.

Vendors will be able to sell deviant versions of the still proscribed items as long as they are labelled as a "product intended for processing" or similar.

The European Commission, the EU's executive arm, must formally adopt the changes which, "for practical reasons", will be implemented from next July.

Rules for straight bananas are not affected.
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