Some call it the saure Gurken Zeit, others just name it the Sommerloch. When kids are off to the summer holidays (the große or Sommer-Ferien), the Bundestag is adjourned and its members also have Sommerferien (if they have been representing their constituencies at all—that is, having been physically present), towns are deserted and every second shop closed, you know it is summer in Germany, regardless if it is a Jahrhundertsommer with temperatures in the high 30s (Celsius, that is) or if it is verregnet with lots of precipitation (the two types usually alternate annually). Since the politischer Zirkus in Berlin is closed for the time being, with the odd politician giving a Sommerinterview on TV, the media needs other topics to present to those Germans who did not opt to go on vacation but stay home in Balkonien. What, then, is better than a handfester Skandal? Exactly, a Lebensmittelskandal.
In the mid-1990s, it was BSE and people were freaking out about eating (beef) steaks. Soon, though, they were again flooding the fastfood joints with the yellow arches or enjoying a nice Rumpsteak in their favorite restaurant. Who still thinks about BSE these days (except from Brits, who are not allowed to donate blood in Germany because they could eventually have the BSE virus in them, and the German bureaucrats harassing them)?
Another favorite is Gammelfleisch. A few years ago it was disclosed that some Döner places had put meat on their shish kebabs that would have been more useful as a biological weapon than hygeniecally approved Lebensmittel. I do not know if anybody was actually harmed—though sometimes the food that university students get served in their Mensa seems to have a disquieting effect on their bowels and their concentration. Anyway, this scandal did not prevent people from satisfying their after-bar munchies with Döner.
About a year ago, some nasty Keime unfortunately killed some unsuspecting eaters. What ensued was almost a pandemic paranoia and everybody was looking for a scapegoat. Soon it was found—raw vegetables which must surely be infested with germs. People banned tomatoes, lettuce, and cucumbers from their daily diet (or had the obligatory salad side at a restaurant, only to remember AFTER eating it that it might have been their Henkersmahlzeit, or last supper). Since most vegetables are imported from Spain, Spanish farmers were soon sitting on mountains of salad ingredients (although Lebensmittelberge of surplus food are nothing new to the vereintes Europa) and making big losses. They even publicly—that is, in front of German cameras—ate their produce to convince the Teutons that it was safe to eat Spanish vegetables; finally, they gave them away for free just to get rid of them. In the times of the Eurokrise, this is of course not good news: the northern (middle?) Europeans suspecting the lazy Südländer of not keeping any hygeniec precautions and therefore endangering the indulgence of true-to-the-book German who just want to enjoy their Rohkost without any health risks and without peeling or cooking it (after all, eating at home should not be an adventure—for this, you travel to far-away countries where there is no German bread or beer suitable for German Durst). Interestingly, other countries warned their citizens of eating in Germany—or stopped importing German food at all, like Russia. Eventually, it turned out that some bean sprouts from a German farm were the root of all evil. And what is even worse, they were organic. Bio. One of the latest golden calves of the politically correct, only local buying Gutmensch, had jut been slaughtered. Again.
Many a German enjoys their Bio products these days. Fed up with pictures of hens or pigs crowded in industrialized barns that remind of the industrial slaughter of a certain Volksgruppe, the German do-gooder wants to pacify his guilt and change his Lebensführung. No more capitalist fastfood restaurant burgers, no more Schnitzel Wiener Art from supermarket freezers—just think about the unmenschliche Bedingungen under which cute little calves and piglets are fattened up just to satisfy our everyday hunger for meat! No, from now on we will only buy from a Biobauer who has a name for every cow and sow. Even if that means driving out of the great city into the Provinz, thereby wasting gas and polluting the environment, but who cares, the meat is Bio! And of couse we will only wear natural clothes from now on—no more Markenterror and endagering the health of workers in some faraway country just to buy a low price, even if that means that these workers might lose their jobs, however underpaid they are in our eyes, now.
While some have been doing it all along—the Althippies had been frequenting Dritte Welt Läden (now called Fair Trade) and Naturkostläden at least since Chancellor Kiesinger was out of office (although their anti-Pershing II missile-chants did not end the Cold War, did they)—some Germans think that picking a specific Bio product will attone for all their sins. They will attack those who question this selective approach and mark them as being part of „the system.“ Meanwhile, Bio has become a label, and as so often, a label is not necessarily a registered trademark. Ever wondered if the abundance of Bio is not a new kind of mass production just sold under a new label? Go ahead and buy your Bio eggs from happy free-roaming chickens—the eggs in your frozen pizza are most likely still from a Legebatterie situated in another European country. And before you attack others who question your Gutmenschentum, you should take a look at yourself. Does the bus you ride so proudly still drive on gas—and even if it is partially Bio, what about the dirt farmers who would like to pay less for their corn? Is the gum in your bicycle’s tires Bio—or is it from a monoculture plantation? Was the Wolle your clothes are made of sheared off the sheep that graze on the nearby hill? Was that wool then locally dyed with natural colors that were collected from plants that grow in the town forrest? Was siehst du aber den Splitter in deines Bruders Auge, und wirst nicht gewahr des Balkens in deinem Auge? (Matthew 7,4) Hypocrites—I mean, of course, Heuchler.