The Raw Deal
Georg gazed down the empty main street in Willunga. A local shuffled past. He didn’t look so well.
‘Excuse me,’ Georg spoke in his best English, ‘where is ze market? I thought you had markets here every Saturday morning.’
The local stared at the German. The man was pale and eyes bloodshot, Georg observed.
‘Please,’ Georg waved his arms about, ‘you can tell me. What happened to the market? I read you have a farmers’ market here. Why you not have one?’
‘Farmers’ Market?’ The local shrugged. ‘Haven’t had one of those in decades. Food’s all replicated from China. Why would we have a market?’
‘Not every person likes replicated food. I don’t.’
‘Real food’s illegal, don’t you know. Has been since the ‘30’s.’
‘What? Real food? You mean real, apples? Pears?’ Georg gestured towards the almond blossom trees in full bloom. ‘And almonds?’
‘Especially almonds, ‘cos of the cyanide.’
‘No! But what about milk? In Germany we have milk, all sorts of milk. Pasturized and raw milk. It is a very complicated thing to replicate milk, surely you must have real milk.’
‘Nup, only powdered from China.’ The local screwed up his nose. ‘All our food comes from there. Big business doesn’t like to replicate stuff in Australia, too expensive. They tried once in the ‘40’s but it failed.’
‘But surely, if you like real food and want to grow it, you can on your own land.’
‘Oh, no, that’s illegal. When the salmonella outbreak hit in ’29, the government here passed a law banning all organic produce. Replicated food is safe, you see. No more gastro outbreaks, no more allergic reactions. Why risk pubic heath with organic food, they reckon.’
‘But we, in Germany have our farms and our markets full of organic food. And everybody is happy there. And healthy.’
The local nodded. ‘Hmm, those were the days. Must admit, real food tasted better. And was easier to get at. Everything these days is vacuum-wrapped. Replicated and vacuum-wrapped. They really care about our health, they do.’
Georg leaned back studying the local with his pasty complexion, dark rings under his eyes, and the skin on the back of his hands all blotchy. ‘How old are you? Um, your name?’
‘I’m Jonah. Born in 1999, so I guess that makes me 51.’
‘And you are healthy?
Jonah gazed at a crack in the concrete footpath and shook his head. ‘Been unable to work the last eight years. Layed-off Black Friday ’42. My health went downhill from there.’
‘What do the doctors say?’
Jonah wiped his nose with a tattered sleeve of his coat. ‘They don’t know. Auto-immune, they guess.’
Georg placed a hand on the local’s shoulder. ‘Friend, Jonah, I think your controllers with all their rules and regulations have given you a raw deal.’
‘And here, me ‘n my mates were blaming the multinationals.’
Georg slowly bobbed his head up and down. ‘You may have a point there. Now let us go to the hotel. I see your leaders have not banned the consumption of alcohol.’
As the two men headed for the local pub, Georg discussed with his new friend his plan to buy some land and a cow.
© Lee-Anne Marie Kling 2017
Painting: Dogs Not Allowed in Water, Thumm See, Bavaria © Lee-Anne Marie Kling 2017