Story telling from Australia
We can’t buy anything these days without some kind of celebrity endorsement. Am I alone in feeling irritated by that? I noticed a billboard today advertising a new line of burgers at Coles, being spruiked by UK chef Heston Blumenthal, and now it seems humble pumpkins and tomatoes have attracted the endorsement of Jamie Oliver. Surely it doesn’t take a celebrity to spruik the sale of basic fruit and veg?
I called into my local Woolworths supermarket the other day, and there was an image of British chef Jamie Oliver, endorsing the sale of tomatoes, bananas, pumpkin and avocado. There was more on the pop up display but I hurried past.
Don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against Jamie Oliver; he’s a down to earth guy with an enviable track record of persuading schools and institutions in the UK to ditch pizza and chips and offer healthy options instead. But does that mean an Australian supermarket is right to invest millions of dollars in a marketing campaign (paid for, apparently, by an additional levy on already squeezed producers) that shows Jamie’s smiling face on billboards, on stickers, on point of sale and on expensive new display stands in order to sell what was already being sold anyway?
An entire range of soft toys was produced to support the campaign (think Banana Man in a purple and green jumpsuit with a flying purple cloak). The toys had to be withdrawn from the shelves because they posed a choking hazard for children. (I’d ‘hazard’ a guess they weren’t made in Australia).
Seriously, will anyone buy more tomatoes because Jamie’s face is on the display stand? And why do I feel so outraged? I think it’s because we’re forgetting where food comes from. Fruit and veg aren’t produced by supermarkets or celebrities, they come from individual farmers and growers, who plough the earth, plant the crops then tend them until they’re ready to harvest. The simple combination of earth, water, sunshine and toil produce fruit and vegetables and that’s what we should focus on, not the smiling face of a celebrity chef.
It’s not Jamie’s fault – he’s simply been paid to put his face to a campaign – but I wish there were more emphasis on the farmers who produce our food and less on the celebrities who get rich by cooking it and the supermarkets that enjoy fat profits by selling it.
According to a recent article in the Brisbane Times “…in the last 12 months, the average vegetable grower has gone from making a small profit to making a loss. In the same 12 months, Mr Oliver’s wealth rose by an estimated £90 million.”
So there you have it.
Maybe if celebrities started endorsing cow manure to spread on your vegetable patch I might sit up and pay attention.
In the meantime I’m heading to the community garden to work off some steam!