Monday, 30 May 2016

The 'Euromyth' of Cucumber curvature.

Bonsoir (French), dobra večer (Croatian), Kalispera (Greek)… Good evening Europe, London calling. 

No, that wasn’t my attempt of showing off how nifty I am (with the help of an online translator to make sure everything makes sense!) 

War is coming. Apples will be harmed. Celery will be used as artillery. The less said about the state of tomatoes, the better. 

If you have been living under a rock for the past few months in British media, the UK will be holding a referendum in the coming weeks on whether or not we should remain a part of the European Union (EU) or leave - which will take place on June 23rd.

A map of the economic and political ties between European states

Already there has been be lots of discussion, debates, scaremongering, dare I say propaganda of ‘factual fiction’ on lots of issues that surround this bubbling issue. I think it would be just to say the core of all of these issues are pinned down by the cucumber. Perhaps a banana at a push.

That’s right. The mighty cucumber. The plant that is added to a salad, served as a refreshing snack or pickled with other fruit/veg, herbs and spices. It doesn’t have a great deal of flavour and compared to other popular fruits or vegetables it doesn’t offer much in the way of nutrition either. Some have a super-subtle sweetness, not unlike a melon. Others have a sense of bitterness about them as a result of the compound cucurbitacin. Most raw cucumbers are over 90% water.
As with any plant there are many different varieties and forms, but for the purposes of this blog entry I am exclusively referring to the ones you would commonly find in a supermarket, greengrocers or fruit and veg stall. From my brief research I believe the variety is a ‘Green Tasty’ - though I could be totally wrong. Though there are many variants and strains that have common characteristics, as with any plant, they come in all shapes and sizes. 

The dichotomy of taste perfectly reflects the ‘in’/‘out’ campaigns that we will all be subjected to for the next few weeks. 

This man won't hold any prisoners if you don't vote
The media took vegetable body positivity (if there ever was such a thing!) to a whole new level a few while back where rumours and articles of the EU banning any fruit or vegetable that did not conform to a set specification would not be allowed to be sold. 

This was consequently backed up by EU commissioners, with Commission Regulation (EC) 2257/94 which states bananas must be “free from malformation or abnormal curvature”. There is no guidance as to what is to be interpreted as ‘abnormal curvature’, which led to inflammatory arguments from the media. These claims were completely blown out of proportion, but still remains into the mindset of the public to this day with some journalists making the point that the "most famous Euromyth of them all" is in fact straight bananas

This contrasts from the case based on cucumbers (Commission Regulation (EEC) No 1677/88) where class I and ‘Extra class’ cucumbers are permitted to have a 10mm per 10cm bend. Class II cucumbers can bend twice as much. 

I should highlight that despite every piece of EU law or legislation being translated into every language of  the culture of the general public seems to be somewhat dependant on being apathetic when it comes to the political sphere. 

Though cucumbers are used in cosmetic products and home remedies for it’s naturally soothing properties, there aren’t many products that you can buy that are flavoured with cucumber or you buy primarily because it contains cucumber. In one sense, it is a rather trivial addition to our plates. Similarly, while this ‘euromyth’ I have referred to above is just a trivial creation of the British media it will be used as a weapon for leaving the EU. Dare I say it may even be possibly viewed as equally crucial as immigration or benefit breaks. Well, we will see about that anyway. It represents a mainland European challenge to our parliamentary supremacy and authority that we once held as an arguable world-leader in the Victorian age… yet it is artifice.

In the world of heated bureaucracy, political customs and systems the average human population too often are left out to get cold. Much like that poor dollop of sad, stagnant tinned mushy peas on the side sometimes served with glorious and lovingly made fish and chips from scratch. If you was wondering, yes, I am rather hungry writing this! 

Therefore I predict, for better or for worse, that food will be used as a language translator between the world of politic and the greater people. Economic plans or the intricate details of the core issues such as the ‘Free Movement of Goods’ or ‘Free Movement of Persons’ turned into much more domestic analogies or comparisons. 

By transposing all of this into a form people can understand, it can be used as a political weapon. Following this logic and without bigging it more - it is essentially Excalibur to the ‘question’ of European membership. 

However, as a result this poses the risk of conflation, as complex issues are collapsed into a simplistic comparison. As I said earlier, it is rare you buy a product because it contains cucumber itself. You buy it in addition with lettuce, tomatoes perhaps even yogurt. Cucumbers need context to work, much like you need the details behind the headlines to see things for what they are. 

All of this talk about the UK’s relationship with Europe and I’ve just discovered that the origins of cucumbers are thought to be South Asia. Oh sweet, sweet irony. 

Gourd for thought*?

*Come on, I needed at least one shoddy pun to lighten up this potentially very serious issue!

For a much more light-hearted visual interpretation of this blog, I have found this entertaining clip from a cartoon my sister used to watch. Readers, you can decide whether or not the characters flinging fruit/veg is either 'remain' or 'leave':

References: accessed 30/05/16 accessed 30/05/16 accessed 30/05/16 accessed 30/05/16