Monday, June 29, 2009

 

The return of the curvy cucumber

For two decades, the European Union carefully regulated the size and shape of fruit. Often this has been quoted, and rightly so, as an example of the over-regulation by the commission.



Announced in November 2008, the return of the curvy cucumber will become effective on July 1, 2009. Now all those cucumbers and carrots will be “allowed” to grow in all shapes and sizes again (not that they cared too much about EC directives anyway).

Standards usually make life convenient. Just imagine what driving a rental car would be like if manufacturers implemented their own concept of speed and steering controls (too bad that other controls like air condition and radio aren't standardized and often not self-explanatory). Or withdrawing money from the bank without standardized bank cards and ATMs. Or connecting to networks if they weren't all using the same protocols.

Regulating the size and shape of fruit and vegetables, on the other hand, doesn't make life more convenient unless you like to see the cucumbers lined up nicely in the fridge. To me, this is mostly an indication of an unhealthy desire to control everything, including Mother Nature. More than two decades ago, the movement which eventually became the Green party started questioning large technology projects, be it nuclear power plants or ecologically questionable hydropower plants. Many of the environmental and energy related issues still need to be addressed. But, at least we have the curvy cucumber back.

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