Compliments to the NY Times for paying attention to sixth boro stories in the past weeks. The lead in this story by Elisabeth Rosenthal reminds me of a bottled jam I saw on the shelves of a general store in the remote area of the Congo where I worked as a Peace Corps volunteer decades ago. The orange marmalade carried an astronomical price–I’ll arbitrarily say $10–in a place where oranges grew wild and a majority of the population practiced subsistence farming and bartered for the few things they couldn’t grow, make, or dig–razors, salt, bullets, steel wire.

Above is a foto of Atlantic Ocean offloading bananas in Howland Hook. At this link is a foto of Abangarez, a banana boat built a century ago. Here’s a quote from Rosenthal’s article: “Cod caught off Norway is shipped to China to be turned into filets, then shipped back to Norway for sale. Argentine lemons fill supermarket shelves on the Citrus Coast of Spain, as local lemons rot on the ground. Half of Europe’s peas are grown and packaged in Kenya.” This is explained by the relative cost of fileting or fruit picking in different places.

Tomatoes grown in Dutch greenhouses and sold in my native upstate New York supermarket, a store built on land that used to grow many tons of tomatoes, are harder to understand, except they’re sold several to a section of vine, making them appear more wholesome maybe.

I’m still at a loss to explain the Danish marmalade in the Portuguese-run Congolese store.

About these ads