The Nude Food Movement, From New Zealand To Colombia

What's the point of pretty produce if you can't squeeze it and smell it too? Columnist Michelle Arévalo Zuleta makes the case for plastic-free fruits and veggies.

'Shop with a fabric bag'
"Shop with a fabric bag"
Michelle Arévalo Zuleta

BOGOTÁ — I can see the object of my desire through the transparent wrap covering it from head to toe, but I can't feel its texture or breathe in its aroma. The "clothing" is unnecessary, in my mind. But more than that, it's infuriating — because it'll take 400 years to decompose, while the fruit inside lasts but a day.

Pollution and global warming are real. What's not is the false idea that our lives are somehow improved by absurd packaging for fruits and vegetables that already have their own, natural protection. Covered tangerines. Wrapped and peeled garlic. Vacuum-sealed French fries even. We've been led so far down the path of minimal effort and indiscriminate and unfettered consumption. And sadly, very few people seem to know that fruit peels (unlike plastic wrapping) don't need 400 years to degrade.

This is where the "Nude Food" trend comes in. It's a movement, started in New Zealand, that seeks to end the use of packaging for fresh produce in supermarkets. And it's taking off (no pun intended) around the world.

The trend is here to make us think.

The elimination of single-use plastics in supermarkets, far from costing these establishments money, is starting to have the complete opposite effect. A case in point is the New World supermarket in Bishopdale, Christchurch, which saw earnings rise after switching to nude food. There's no reason why we can't try the same thing here in Colombia, especially since a few pioneer shops in Bogotá are already operating that way. Here are a few "nude food" markets I found in the capital:

Metkalü, on Carrera 4a # 57-41 in the mid-town district of Chapinero, is open from 9:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. It is a welcoming little market that offers not just organic products but also leafy and other vegetables, laid out on recycled wooden shelves. Its name comes from the native Wayuu language. The shop offers responsible products, without plastic and derived from organic farming techniques practiced by families, native Colombians and small-scale farmers committed to protecting the fertility of Colombian soils.

Clorofila, on Park Way (41st street # Carrera 24-20), began in the countryside but is now one of the city's big alternative markets. It too works around clean, family farming and natural, holistic practices. Like a traditional market and unlike supermarkets, the buyer can touch, feel and smell the produce here, which is ideal for testing the freshness of products. It makes the consumer conscious of what he is taking away. Besides advising customers, Clorofila has explanatory notes beside labels, and products come from checked suppliers. The shop delivers nationwide.

And if convenience is an issue, there's also the option of getting naked food sent right to your home through (Sowing Trust), an online platform. Consumers can get organic fruit and veggies — plus freshly laid eggs and traditional food preparations — delivered every Thursday to their doorsteps. The platform works with small-scale farmers inside the city or surrounding villages, all committed to organic, chemical-free production. Register with the webpage to start a fruitful partnership.

The trend isn't just here to stay. It's also here to make us all think, to remind us that as consumers, we have a right to demand quality. More than that even, we have a duty to make sure the products we use every day will not have a major impact on the environment. Indeed, it is high time that large-scale supermarket chains and producers start reducing the plastic on their shelves.

We should also keep in mind that returning to traditional market shopping is a way to start using our basic senses again: It's about simple gestures like choosing a piece of fruit, engaging with what we eat. After all, we recall just 1% of everything we touch, 2% of everything we hear and 5% of what we see, but 15% what we try and 35% of what we smell! Let us be conscious of what we consume.

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What It Means When The Jews Of Germany No Longer Feel Safe

A neo-Nazi has been buried in the former grave of a Jewish musicologist Max Friedlaender – not an oversight, but a deliberate provocation. This is just one more example of antisemitism on the rise in Germany, and society's inability to respond.

At a protest against antisemitism in Berlin

Eva Marie Kogel


BERLIN — If you want to check the state of your society, there's a simple test: as the U.S. High Commissioner for Germany, John Jay McCloy, said in 1949, the touchstone for a democracy is the well-being of Jews. This litmus test is still relevant today. And it seems Germany would not pass.

Incidents are piling up. Most recently, groups of neo-Nazis from across the country traveled to a church near Berlin for the funeral of a well-known far-right figure. He was buried in the former grave of Jewish musicologist Max Friedlaender, a gravesite chosen deliberately by the right-wing extremists.

The incident at the cemetery

They intentionally chose a Jewish grave as an act of provocation, trying to gain maximum publicity for this act of desecration. And the cemetery authorities at the graveyard in Stahnsdorf fell for it. The church issued an immediate apology, calling it a "terrible mistake" and saying they "must immediately see whether and what we can undo."

There are so many incidents that get little to no media attention.

It's unfathomable that this burial was allowed to take place at all, but now the cemetery authorities need to make a decision quickly about how to put things right. Otherwise, the grave may well become a pilgrimage site for Holocaust deniers and antisemites.

The incident has garnered attention in the international press and it will live long in the memory. Like the case of singer-songwriter Gil Ofarim, who recently claimed he was subjected to antisemitic abuse at a hotel in Leipzig. Details of the crime are still being investigated. But there are so many other incidents that get little to no media attention.

Photo of the grave of Jewish musicologist Max Friedlaender

The grave of Jewish musicologist Max Friedlaender

Jens Kalaene/dpa/ZUMA

Crimes against Jews are rising

Across all parts of society, antisemitism is on the rise. Until a few years ago, Jewish life was seen as an accepted part of German society. Since the attack on the synagogue in Halle in 2019, the picture has changed: it was a bitter reminder that right-wing terror against Jewish people has a long, unbroken history in Germany.

Stories have abounded about the coronavirus crisis being a Jewish conspiracy; meanwhile, Muslim antisemitism is becoming louder and more forceful. The anti-Israel boycott movement BDS rears its head in every debate on antisemitism, just as left-wing or post-colonial thinking are part of every discussion.

Jewish life needs to be allowed to step out of the shadows.

Since 2015, the number of antisemitic crimes recorded has risen by about a third, to 2,350. But victims only report around 20% of cases. Some choose not to because they've had bad experiences with the police, others because they're afraid of the perpetrators, and still others because they just want to put it behind them. Victims clearly hold out little hope of useful reaction from the state – so crimes go unreported.

And the reality of Jewish life in Germany is a dark one. Sociologists say that Jewish children are living out their "identity under siege." What impact does it have on them when they can only go to nursery under police protection? Or when they hear Holocaust jokes at school?

Germany needs to take its antisemitism seriously

This shows that the country of commemorative services and "stumbling blocks" placed in sidewalks as a memorial to victims of the Nazis has lost its moral compass. To make it point true north again, antisemitism needs to be documented from the perspective of those affected, making it visible to the non-Jewish population. And Jewish life needs to be allowed to step out of the shadows.

That is the first thing. The second is that we need to talk about specifically German forms of antisemitism. For example, the fact that in no other EU country are Jewish people so often confronted about the Israeli government's policies (according to a survey, 41% of German Jews have experienced this, while the EU average is 28%). Projecting the old antisemitism onto the state of Israel offers people a more comfortable target for their arguments.

Our society needs to have more conversations about antisemitism. The test of German democracy, as McCloy called it, starts with taking these concerns seriously and talking about them. We need to have these conversations because it affects all of us. It's about saving our democracy. Before it's too late.

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