A strange twist with tomatoes

There are two kinds of fights – for and against. But there is also the fight with. Let’s take the case of the tomatoes. A fight usually begins when we lack something. Like these days, when the tomato is a scarce commodity.

There’s a huge hubbub at the Indian marketplace. No one knows why tomatoes cost so much. It’s a mystery that they cannot solve. The tomato is an essential ingredient for the Indian curry. No arguing, it brings zest and spice to everyday life. Lesser and middle-income groups cannot do without it and are sure to be hit. These are not things that one should have to think about – whether to use a quarter tomato or half because one cannot afford a handful. How did we get around to measuring a tomato’s worth?

I should be honest and tell you – the price rise initially did not affect me. You may ask why and you should. Well, it’s because I don’t do the shopping. Of course, I pay bills, but they are slapped at me lumpsum and the tomato bill is not isolated. Surely, I must be affected in some way, I don’t deny. I just am ignorant of how. And this actually made me think about how things change around us without our knowledge. For quite a while, I kept walking without any concern, passing screens and headlines that cried “Tomatoes like gold! Tomatoes going up!” Eventually, I began to panic. Then I began to visualize where all this could lead. Anxiousness crept in. Warning bells went off in my head with every television header.

And just while Delhi and many parts of India are reeling under Minus Tomatoes, I read about the La Tomatina festival in the Spanish town of Bunol. Every year, on the last Wednesday of August, they all throw tomatoes at each other. It’s known to be “the messiest event of the year.” The irony of it is, this year the Bunol Township is going to help Dalit women in India with the profit from the ticket sales to the festival. Imagine! They are going to throw tomatoes at each other while we are scratching the surface for tomatoes. We are fighting over tomatoes while they will be fighting with tomatoes to help a section of Indians. The money is going to Sahell, an organization that helps to give safe environments for Dalit women.

I wish instead they would somehow just ship those tomatoes to India from Spain instead of squishing them flat out. Imported tomatoes with stickers stuck on “Made in Spain”. Every fat red tomato will beep when they scan it. Maybe with all the shipping and duty and import costs, each Indian can only afford one tomato.

By Anthony Lopez on Aug 17, 2014
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