Aegina Home & Living - Living in Aegina

 

 

 


LIVING IN AEGINA

What is it REALLY like to live in Aegina?

 

                                                           LIVING


 

LIVING                                                                NOVEMBER 2015         
  

PERFECT IMPERFECTIONS

 

I recently watched a documentary in England which concerned the wastage of food in Britain, not just the food discarded by individuals but the mammoth quantity thrown out by multinational supermarkets. Presented by Hugh Fearnley Wittingstall, he highlighted the plight of many British farmers who have to literally throw away a huge percentage of their crops ....why?  because they are not perfect enough for the consumer.

He focused on one farming family whose livelihood is dependent upon producing parsnips for a major British supermarket. This year, they were left to chuck out 40 percent of their parsnips which translated in weight to 20 tones, simply because they did not pass the test of aesthetic beauty, that the customer wants beautiful, near perfect vegetables.

 

Who are these customers? I am a customer and so are my friends and family and I have never heard any of them complain about a distortion in the shape of a root vegetable, that it is too knotted, hairy or gnarled to be bought and cooked. In my family, we are more likely to buy an odd looking root because it has character, which in my family means it is more likely to become the subject of a still life painting or it becomes anthropomorphed, dressed up in a little coat and given a name. No, in my family, the only complaints I have heard are those about the endless packaging, the sterile, no touch protective membrane that I suppose is there to maintain the physical perfection of the enclosed vegetable, suffocating it and no doubt slowly seeping polythene chemicals into the plant. I swear that those plants heave a sigh of relief when at home, the membrane is ripped off and finally they can breathe again.

And when did the supermarkets decide that we need to have our vegetables peeled and washed before consumption? What chemical process does this involve?

 

Back in Greece, in Piraeus, I pass an old woman, weathered and tired but hopeful that she will sell the bundles of rocket, held together with strands of cotton, piled up, on a trestle table, fresh rocket picked either from the road side or if she is lucky enough, from her garden, dirty because it is from the soil and possibly dusty because of the roads, but heh, it can be washed.

On Aegina, I nip into my local supermarket and for the sake of speed, I decide to buy some vegetables (I usually support local greengrocers) Everything, except some imported rocket is out there, all blemishes, irregularities, textures, mutations and imperfections, to be touched, prodded, discarded, selected and then one can choose between polythene or paper bags in which to place the produce. “Always use a paper bag”, a wise Greek housewife once said to me, as she sidled up to me in the supermarket. “The things can breathe and then they don't sweat and go bad”.

 

I like to think that such food wastage doesn’t go on in Greece because of the current economic crisis and because I have a romantic idea that Greeks are generally more politically active about food but I am probably wrong.

 

Meanwhile, today I bought a lovely bunch of carrots because they look like proper carrots that have just come out of the ground. They are hairy and contorted, blemished and dirty but I bet that they will taste sweet and carroty. They are perfectly imperfect, just as nature intended.

 

 



 

Alison Lorentzos                                                             copyright 2015

 

 

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