Fresh Foods

“Darling will you get me some mint?” said Claire.

“Sure, how much do you want?” said Daved to his wife, cheerful despite nursing a hangover. “Just a handful?”

“One of my handfuls, honey – not one of yours.” Daved clipped young stalks from the container using chained-up-scissors. The rush of freshness cleared his head, but the dullness returned. “Oh, and while you’re there, can you get some cilantro?”

“Sure honey,” he said, and moved to other containers.

“Is my hunky husband in the mood for some heavy digging” said Claire, her trailing arm circling his waist. “Some spuds and carrots please. Not too many. Just what we need for the weekend.” Daved pushed his hands into the soil and rooted around. He yanked up ten medium-sized russets, and a dozen purple carrots. The freshness of food these days was astonishing. Since the implementation of Local Food Laws, supermarkets grew produce right on their shelves. It was all fresh, local, healthy food. What could be better for you?

“Perfect,” she said. “Let’s get some tomatoes. Where’s the hothouse section? Why do they keep moving it around? Oh, there it is, I think. Or is that exotics?” She ambled over and pulled open a flap. “No, it’s tomatoes.” Claire snipped off a pound each of Black Princes and Green Zebras. The peppers looked good, and she decided to get some of those, selecting ripe Hungarian Wax, Jalapeno, Cayenne, and – what the hell! – Habanero peppers; all conveniently growing on the same bush.

“What else do we need, love?” she called out of the hothouse.

“I fancy fish today,” said Daved. “What about you?”

“Ok, go catch something Ahab. I’ll be in the dairy.” Claire was still pulling the Gau MataTM  udders – invented by the great Indian scientist Dr. A.W. Cooraswamy-Muchilinda-Moghlai – when Daved appeared with his catch.

“He had some spirit, this one,” he said. “Zipping around the tank like crazy. I couldn’t get him with the line so zapped him. Anyway, we have grilled wild salmon with coriander potatoes and minted carrots on the menu for tonight.”

Claire finished her milking. She loved the feeling of pulling these udders, it was so authentic; just like the rosy-cheeked farm girl in the ads. She wiped her hands and said, “Ok, just some beef now. I think we’ve got everything else.”

The meat section was always quieter in the afternoons. People liked “fresh” beef grown overnight – they said it was more tender – but Claire had never noticed the difference. She felt that they were kidding themselves; they just didn’t want to pay the extra for Veal. Daved carved thick strips of soft red flesh from the block, each piece well textured. That Indian Doctor was a genius, he thought– it’s a shame he was assassinated; think what else he could have invented. The meat block shook and made a squealing sound. The Butcher rushed over and said, “I’m so sorry Sir. Some of these meats are restless this morning. I’m not sure why.”

“The fish are pretty spirited too,” said Daved. “I felt like I was chasing Moby Dick.”

The Butcher smiled and said, “Well Buster here’s not going anywhere. Would you like me to finish carving? How much do you need?” He wrapped up their bloody meat and said, “Enjoy your meal. By the way, have you visited our new Fair Trade Department? It’s across the other side of the store.”

“No, we haven’t heard about it,” said Claire.

“We’ve kept it quiet deliberately; we don’t want any trouble. Look what happened to Dr. Cooraswamy-Muchilinda-Moghlai. That SFPF is dangerous; they say that they don’t condone violence but every terrorist incident seems to involve one of their members. Anyway, good folk like you won’t cause any trouble, I’m sure. Why don’t you take a look?”

A uniformed security guard allowed them entry to what must have been a previously unused warehouse at the back of the store. Daved and Claire gasped in amazement. It was ten degrees hotter than outside, and pretty humid; the lush green area was divided into continents. In “South America” they saw tattooed Amazon tribesmen picking Brazil Nuts. In “Africa”, red-blanketed Maasai warriors tended coffee bushes. In “Asia” Saffron-robed Sadhus picked orange pekoe tea. “Australia” had ochre-smeared Aborigines tending mangoes. “North America” featured Navajo squaws growing corn, beans, and squash. “Europe” had men in black berets and women in bright dresses treading barrels of grapes.

“What do you think?” said the Manager, catching up with them. “We need to fine-tune the costumes, I know, but not bad, eh? Sorry I didn’t welcome you earlier, but I was keeping my eye on the protest outside. It’s those Slow Food People’s Front extremists. Some people just don’t see progress when it slaps them in the face. Whatever we do is never enough for them. I mean, ten years ago who would have thought that our entire food chain would be fresh, local, and organic?”

He chatted with Claire and Daved for a while, and then asked if he could show them something special. “We always like to run things by our customers first.” He showed them a device that the grocery store was testing, called MORE (Modern Organism Replicator Engine). “Wait till we get this going next month. You’ve never tasted food so fresh!”

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