Friday, June 24, 2005

Going Bananas

The list of things that I won’t buy from the supermarket is getting longer! Living in a politically aware household is challenging! Being married to the chairman of a branch of the union is also challenging! When we employed someone to do the cleaning, she was not paid according to the going rate but according to what my union husband considered to be a minimum wage!

For years we have not bought any Nestle products – although Kit-Kats seem to have got through the nestle net! It is truly sad that they just happen to make the best breakfast cereals! If someone tells me that Kellogs is part of their consortium I don’t know what I shall do. I shall stick to boiled eggs I suppose – free range of course – and toast.

A few months ago, the Coco Cola company got added to the banned list! Allegations were made that they had arranged for hit men to target union officials in developing countries. The conditions under which some people have to work border on the obscene.

Yesterday, bananas joined the hit list! (Not all bananas – Chiquitos for sure, and Del Monte products too! Developing a unit on global solidarity and looking at trade issues I am suddenly aware that the stuff that I buy comes at a price. There is the price label that the super-market stick on obviously, but beneath all of that there are a whole load of human rights issues! Small family farmers are not able to compete on the same level as the big businesses. Supermarkets demand “pretty” bananas that are just the right shade of yellow and have a perfect 10 degree curve to the left. To get that farmers need to use pesticides that can be harmful to both people and land. We eat what is inside the banana not the skin.

The big multinational companies are determined to carve out of the market a very big slice of the pie. They will carve up the opposition if they happen to get in the way. Free trade is not free at all, except if you think in terms of the fat cats having the freedom to make all the rules. These greedy corporations seem to want to take every inch of the market away from the little people and use their governments to pile on the pressure.

Does it matter? A banana is just a banana after all! I think it does matter. We pray “Your Kingdom come, Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” Being a Christian is not just about having a ticket to heaven with life as a waiting room. God’s will done on earth is about justice now.

The world is designed with some countries having so many resources while other countries have so few. It may be a matter of geography if I happen to live in a land of lush green fields, regular rainfall and fluffy sheep grazing on hillsides. It is equally a matter of geography if someone else has to walk four miles to get to water, and drought ravages fields of crops. It is an altogether different matter if I build my bigger barns to store my abundance while someone else has nothing.

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