Here& Now with S Sorrensen

Organic markets, Lismore. Tuesday, 8.10am

The corn winks at me. Of course it doesnt have eyes but it winks at me in that corny way a flash of golden kernels teasingly exposed through a thin veil of silk and a wrap of husk.

Corn like this, healthy organic corn, flirts with you. Lets face it, corn is sexy. (Of course, the sexiest of all foods is the cumquat if only for its name. Cumquat.) But corn pulls a crowd.

Unlike beetroot. Beetroot doesnt flirt. Beetroot couldnt give a fig about whether you like it or not. Beetroot has other things on its mind. Beetroot remembers way back when it was a wild seabeet found on coastlines around Europe. It remembers the ancient Greeks (who were not ancient at all then but were hip, democrat mysogynists) using the beetroots then penis-shaped root as a very special medicine. They understood the dark mysteries of the beetroot. (Like, a hamburger is not really a hamburger without a slice of canned beetroot. Tell an American.)

The beetroot sulks in its memories, hunkered down with other purple sulkers in a box on a table at the organic market at the Lismore Showground.

Over the past year, world prices for food staples have risen by 40 per cent. Theres a global food recession happening. Bugger sharemarket collapse, this is serious. There are riots over corn.

I choose two corns and a large hulking beetroot that dreams of Greek soldiers. (Can a beetroot be gay?)

The bloke behind the vegies says a cheery Gday and Theyre bloody beautiful corn, eh? and Great to see the sun, isnt it? to me as he takes my money. And, mysteriously, Ah, someone finally got you, big fella, to the beetroot. He knows his vegies. Personally.

Im surrounded by trestles laden with organic produce. Theres macadamia paste (great in smoothies) sold by a smiling woman who has mastered the art of taking your money with one hand, while holding a squirming two-year-old in the other.

People are turning up, parking next to the old pavillion where, during the Lismore Show, the latest model cars were on display. Men with paunches and pies wandered among them, dreaming impossible escape dreams and teaching their sons (with their cokes) how to want. Always.

A lot of ethanol, increasingly used in car fuel, is made from corn. Even sexy corn. As the bio-fuel mania takes off, food is used to fuel someones private transport indulgence rather than to feed people. By law.

Forests are being razed to create more land for bio-fuel crops; agricultural land for feeding local people is being turned over to bio-fuel crops. The US, the World Bank and the IMF have forced countries to open up their agriculture to multinational companies who are interested in cash not carrots.

Nations no longer have sovereignty over their food. Globalisation is a worm-riddled con.

A guitarist plays some fine classical tunes as the early morning shoppers wander the market, baskets in hand. This is enjoyable shopping. Food is honoured, even a gay beetroot whos not into corn.

Its quality food from the real fresh food people.


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