“Buck a bowl!” the trader called out. “Buck a bowl! Buck a bowl!” He held up coloured plastic bowls. People stopped to examine their contents, and if pleasing, proffered a cloth bag in which to pour them. Bowls were refilled immediately. Trade was brisk.

Since the passing of the 2012 Local Food Laws, every Village in the Province, and every area in the City, had a dedicated Vegetable and Fruit Market (VFM). It operated daily and was always packed as people tried desperately to meet their ten-a-day requirement. The Authority was not severe on those who tried but didn’t make it, but was unforgiving of those who didn’t bother. The VFM operated year round. Its roof was rolled back in summer months, and in winter it provided vital cover. It also lived up to the impression created by its acronym VFM – Value For Money – with its prices being half those of the grocery store.

The market was a huge gazebo designed to optimize light and ventilation. Sunlight slipping in didn’t hit produce directly but made it glow. Customers walked around in the slanting sunshine, swinging their hemp bags in alternate bands of warmth and shade.

Shannon liked to shop daily to ensure the freshest produce possible. She may as well extract maximum benefit from her ten-a-day. “Same as usual, love?” said the flat-capped, thick spectacled guy from Jolly Good Farms. She didn’t know his name but referred to him as the Jolly Good Fellow.

“What’s my usual?” said Shannon, smiling. This guy was always flirting with her. She didn’t fancy him but didn’t mind. “Come on I’ll test you!”

“You’ll want one portion of red apples – preferring small ones, one portion of firm green pears, one portion plantains, two portions medium local bananas, two portions baby purple carrots, one portion sprouting broccoli, one portion German Butter potatoes, one portion Russian garlic. How did I do?”

“Pretty good,” said Shannon. “How did you know? Have you been spying on me again? I thought those bug-eyes staring through binoculars looked familiar.”

“The Authority helps us small farmers,” he said. “They know this is a challenging business. We attend special marketing classes. I chose to specialize in servicing pretty, young ladies.”

“You’re sounding a bit pervy now. I thought you were a Jolly Good Fellow. Don’t ruin the image. I may have to take my business elsewhere.”

“Oh, Miss Lululemon, please don’t do that.” Shannon wasn’t sure why but she became self-conscious. Her brand of clothing was obvious to anyone, but his comment felt intrusive. “I’ll give you an extra portion. How about some local pomegranate?”

Shannon nodded. “Ok Mr. Fellow.” As he filled up her bag, she decided to shop elsewhere in future. This guy usually had the best selection though, and her spiritual teacher, OM – short for Ozwald Melchizedek – recommended Jolly Good Farms. He said their produce held more prana. OM approved of The Authority’s ten-a-day requirement, and recommended eating five of the fruits and veggies before midday, and the other five between twelve and six. He said, “That is the way to be lean and mean. Lean because you consume food as you need it and nothing gets stored unnecessarily, and mean because you are always slightly undernourished and on edge. Lean and mean.”

Shannon looked around the market. It was true, everybody was looking leaner than ever. The VFM had made them health conscious, and was a real step forward in provincial wellbeing. But how did they sell things so cheaply? A buck a bowl was unbelievable. Even the tropical fruits grown in local hothouses were a dollar. She searched online and asked around but people were tight-lipped, only mentioning “efficient production models” and “modern technologies”. The Local Food Laws made it impossible to visit farms, which were deemed “Fundamental Framework” installations for Future Food Security. You couldn’t get anywhere near one and all workers signed confidentiality contracts.

The sun was especially bright today. It dazzled her momentarily and she lost her footing. She would have fallen if not for a fellow shopper who grabbed and held her up. “Thank you,” she said. “I’m not sure what happened to me.”

“I know exactly what happened to you,” said the woman, who wore strange golden glasses. “Do you want to know?”

Shannon found this woman intimidating, but was intrigued. “Go on then, tell me.”

“Come with me,” she said, leading Shannon to the edge of the VFM. “Try these.” She handed her the golden glasses. As soon as Shannon put them on, all the produce disappeared. The stalls were empty. There was nothing there.

“Oh my god!” she said. “What’s happened? Where are the fruit and veg?” She removed the glasses and saw the produce reappear.

The intimidating woman said, “These glasses perform nutritional screening. They screen out everything unnatural, showing only vitamins and minerals. This food is all junk. Ten-a-day is a fraud.”

“How can that be?” said Shannon.

“Yes it’s all produced locally – but it is structured using holographic, nature-identical, seedless, hydroponic, container-ripened, genetically modified, and other industrial methods. Everybody is eating nothing. Don’t you wonder why people are so lean? They are emaciated nutritionally.”

“Who are you?” Shannon said to the woman.

“I have given my life to the Slow Food Action Front. I believe in fighting for good food.” Then her eyes opened wide. “Shit! That guy over there is an agent.” She indicated the Jolly Good Fellow. “If he recognizes me, he’s sure to do something. Let’s get out of here.”

Shannon still wore the golden glasses. She saw that some of his fruits appeared again, glowing brightly. He had injected his apples and mangoes with a nightshade-derived neurological virus. He beckoned them both over, smiling in a jolly good way.



One Response to “Ten-A-Day”

  1. To be an acronym it has to be pronounceable, as if it were a word.

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