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Nov 22, 2008

Brussels, The Cucumber, and Deregulation

Brussels and the Cucumber
11/22/08 - WSJ.com Opinion

EU regulators will do a bit less regulation. Ever wonder what all of those people are doing in your own government?

[edited] European Union Commissioner for agriculture and rural development, Mariann Fischer Boel says "It's a new dawn" in Brussels. Next July, the EU will lift rules dictating the size and shape of 26 fruits and vegetables. Hello, curvy cucumber.

For decades, the EU has issued rules in the name of "consumer protection", such as how to use mayonnaise, the definition of an egg, the diameter of a peach, and protecting European shoppers from the sight of a misshapen carrot. This requires an army of bureaucrats and a few editorial writers.

These rules cost billions in higher grocery prices and the taxes that support Europe's notorious Common Agricultural Policy. Ms. Fischer Boel says the new regulations will cut administrative costs and reduce food prices. "We simply don't need to regulate this sort of thing at the EU level. It is far better to leave it to market operators." What a thought.

The "bonkers Brussels bureaucrats" are still with us. 16 of the EU's 27 member states oppose the changes, and the EU will continue to set standards for apples, tomatoes, and 8 other fruits and vegetables making up 75% of the value of EU trade.

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Protected From UglyRipe Tomatoes
02/02/11 - 02/24/05 - Mises.org by Gary Galles  [edited]

Why are winter tomatoes pretty but tasteless? The government is protecting us from having to think too much about them, and about other fruits and vegetables.

UglyRipe tomatoes come from 10 years of work by Joe Procacci. Customers say they have the luscious taste they remember from the good old days. Few UglyRipe meet the FTC’s standard of beauty for selling out of state because they fail roundness standards.

This is the latest in a long line of rip-offs in the name of consumer protection and enforced by government marketing boards. Marketing boards trace from New Deal legislation to “save” agriculture.

Florida growers of pretty but bland tomatoes dominate America’s winter supply, and they protect their profits at consumer expense. Marketing boards block the sale of “lower quality” tomatoes to restrict competition from newer varieties that consumers might prefer.

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