My dad squeezes fresh orange juice for my mum every morning, because he knows how to treat a lady. Which goes some way to explaining why he’s been married for over thirty years, and I haven’t been married for any.
Relationship advice aside, my dad only uses Australian oranges. He votes Liberal, believes in supporting small business and the capitalist concept of supply and demand, so we have our differences. What he doesn’t believe in, however, is foreign fruit.
‘How can an orange from America or Brazil be cheaper than an Australian one? How can an orange that’s sailed here from half a world away cost less than one grown in the same state as where it’s sold? That bloody foreign stuff, coming here, and stealing our shelf space.’
My dad’s right. It doesn’t make any logical sense.
Now I know travelling by boat is cheaper than travelling by air, and I imagine that the cost of a ticket for an orange would be way less than it would be for a person, but still it must cost more. One orange travels thousands of kilometres, while the Australian one travels barely a hundred.
My dad also prefers the green grocer, also known as the fruit and vegetable store to those born after 1990, as their fruit is often better quality and cheaper than the supermarkets.
Last week, his local green grocer was out of Australian oranges, so Dad begrudgingly ventured into the fruit and vegetable section of the supermarket.
He checked the signage for the origin of their oranges, and bought a couple of kilos. When he got home, he read the fine print on mesh bag tags, and discovered that the oranges were Californian. Which he should’ve realised immediately, due to their deep tan and annoying accents.
So he returned to the supermarket, where he had the following exchange with the kid masquerading as a manager.
‘Mate, these oranges are Californian, but the sign says they’re from Australia,’ said Dad.
The kid shrugged. ‘I’ll look into it.’
‘Not good enough,’ Dad replied, and marched him over to the display.
When they didn’t have a replacement sign, Dad refused to leave until the manager used a black marker to cross out ‘Australian’ and write ‘Californian’. Then he got his money back, and drove to different shopping centre where they luckily had some Australian oranges, and some delicious Queensland strawberries, which were for me. Strawberries are my favourite.
So from all this I learnt two things. My dad is a legend. (Which I already knew.) And that the supermarkets don’t give a stuff. For all their posturing, press releases and promises about supporting the local industry, and shiny adverts claiming freshness and low prices, all they care about is using whatever tricks they can, to make as much money for their shareholders as possible.
The result is that in Australia at this very moment, because of all the imports, local farmers can’t sell their fruit, and are being forced to destroy perfectly good fruit trees.
The imports are so cheap because of government handouts, which we don’t get in Australia, or because their workers are paid well below the minimum wage. Eventually these handouts will disappear, the wages will rise, and we’ll be stuck paying way too much for foreign fruit and vegetables, because we destroyed our local farming industry to make money now, instead of thinking about the future.
Or the whole system will collapse, and we’ll have nothing to eat at all.
Refugees coming here by boat aren’t the ones stealing our jobs. It’s the gigantic boatloads of fruit and vegetables. So we shouldn’t be worried about the boat people. What we really need to stop is the boat fruit.
There’s something you can do, starting today. Check the signs, read the labels and buy only Australian grown. So what if it costs a little extra? If we all work together, we can stop the boat fruit.
Xavier Toby is a writer and comedian.
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