Friday, 11 December 2009

It’s war in the supermarket aisles

I have no particular view on the whole sorry mess of Middle East politics but I may just have been given a gentle nudge in Israel’s direction thanks to a bunch of handwringing types who want to politicise every aspect of our lives, including the weekly shop.

I’m talking about the decision by some concerned people that labelling food as coming from either Israel or Palestine is simply not good enough if you want to pop down the Co-op for a bit of right-on and discriminatory shopping. Until recently I can imagine these Birkenstock-wearing types were stuffing their faces with anything marked Produce of Palestine in a well-intentioned effort to support the cause of Palestinian self-determination and there’s nothing wrong with that, of course.

Unfortunately, someone has pointed out that Palestine also includes some Zionists who’ve settled illegally in the West Bank. Now imagine how the pious Grauniad readers must feel when they realise those stuffed olives they’ve been scoffing like they were going out of fashion have been picked and packed by Israeli settlers. It must be a bit like being a vegetarian and then finding out you’ve been eating curried poodle when you thought you were having tofu korma. It’s enough to make you choke, I would imagine.

So now the UK Government has suggested that food imported from Palestinian territories should be labelled either Palestinian Produce or Israeli Settlement Produce depending on their origin. This will help the people who feel the need to boycott one side in a dispute that’s happening a couple of thousand miles away. It may also encourage people of the opposite view to discriminate the other way. Still, I suppose anything that extends choice can’t be bad.

Perhaps it would be easier if the produce were even more easily distinguished. How about a lovely cuddly heart logo on one and black skull and crossbones on the other? That would help the socially progressive shopper to get things straight when they’re girding their loins for a spot of boycotting.

The UK Department for the Environment, Regions and Agriculture has said that traders would be committing an offence if they did declare produce from the occupied territories as "Produce of Israel". No doubt we can soon expect to see a clipboard-wielding civil servants from Whitehall marching into the West Bank with a summons for any settlers mislabelling their goods.

I only hope they’ll have flak jackets and an armed guard.


  1. I agree this is going a bit far.
    I do remember, however, my parents boycotting South African Outspan oranges for then obvious and valid reasons.
    Consumers can vote with their feet.

  2. Good morning ETM

    Life just gets more and more complicated - soon a trip to the supermarket will require the whole day - by the time one has read the labels for salt/sugar/fat and all other (tasty) contents or otherwise, then provenance .......... !

    Tomorrow I shall visit my local farmers market where all stuff comes from local producers - well just outside London most of them. Everything is fresh, organic, full of flavour and also good value!

    Happy Prawn Friday from the Chelsea Gang to their virtual mate, Whisky!

    Cheers Cats' Mother

  3. Good idea, Sarah. Whisky is being a fussy and grumpy cat. He's got a cold :-(

  4. Oh no - a cat with "MAN FLU"!!! What a disaster - poor Mrs ETM - will we see worse behaviour than Jeremy Clarkson on Top Gear last week??

  5. As I follow your blog and see that you have links to others, I thought you may be interested in following up on which seems to have attracted quite a following in a relatively short time.
    It’s described as the ‘scurrilous thoughts of an ageing rebel somewhere in the bleeding heart of Middle England’ and I found it very funny. According to the archive page, the author, who calls himself Aubrey Fitzrovia, is putting together a list of his favourite blogs and perhaps if you drop him an email he will add your site to his list. Keep up the good work! The food pictures were great!!

  6. I have enough problems checking packets for wheat (1 coeliac child!). You would not believe the things that have wheat or gluten in there!!!

    Supermarket shopping at this time of year is enough of a war zone at this time of year! I was in one this morning and it was madness and mayhem! Everyone stocking up for a seige! Checking out the origin of my fruit, don't think standing at the fruit stand for longer will be good for my health.

  7. Following this line of 'reasoning' should produce from Northern Ireland also be labelled as coming from an occupied territory......
    Just makes me want to go out as buy as much stuff produced in Israel as poss. Grrr

  8. Northern Irish produce could be labelled Prod or Provo. Pass me a big juicy Jaffa orange, will you?

  9. don't talk to me about supermarkets - I went to Tescos today due to the lack of baked beans and other essentials, and there was certainly not a lot of goodwill towards all men in there - felt like a battle zone.