Tuesday, November 22, 2011

What Is In a Bag of Crisps?

Dear Laila kindly provided a translation of my article in al akhbar

What Is In a Bag of Crisps?
What is in the bag of crisps that our children are so addicted to? Apart from the high calories that are the result of soaking the thin potato slices in cheap oil of doubtful origin, there is human and environmental tragedy.
The story of the bag of crisps begins with the potato planted in the fertile plains of Akkar or the Biqaa Valley. Planting potatoes is usually done intensively and needs huge areas to guarantee economic success. This kind of production pollutes the soil with fertilizers and pesticides. It also drains precious water resources.
Over the decades, potato planting has moved on from being a food production process to become a capitalist enterprise which aims to produce a commercial commodity. This means that only a few rich investors, who control large sectors of the production process, reap the benefits. Those are the same people who shed crocodile tears whenever any Arab country returns their products because their quality is not up to standard. They accuse the ministry of agriculture of failing while at the same time they want to prevent the state from controlling any conditions of quality of production or export.
Like all rich businessmen, they want a weak state which works with a minimum of laws, unless they can benefit from them directly, helping them to increase their profits and accumulate fortunes. They form small cartels that manipulate the price of potatoes so that they can buy it at the lowest price possible from small farmers who then drown in debt.

There is another tragedy in the bag of crisps. It is the excessive exploitation of agricultural workers, particularly women. The same bag also contains the sweat of the factory workers, most of whom are day workers who live beneath the poverty line and who have no laws to protect them.
In the bag of crisps there is the same tale of injustice and exploitation as all other food products, but we do not feel it. Perhaps we have learned to accept injustice to the extent that we now live in a state of selective blindness.

1 comment:

rox said...

this is so sad to read . It really is heart wrenching because the people who suffer so much from this are first children and then the poor .
You know America and Canada appear so rich but it is full of low/ middle class families who feed their children junk and then the health issues are horrid childhood diabetes etc.
people poor or not should all have access to real food & clean water .