Bloody fruit

An exploitative system and an unusual friendship [Guideline]

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Hakim
Germany, Dresden

2018

You hear the monotonous beep from the scanner at the counter.

Moving goods over the counter. A stable part of your daily life since you got the job in the discounter.

You are moving towards the oranges. The only thing that reminds you of your home.

Pick up oranges

You take a closer look at the little sign above the oranges.

Your heart starts pumping faster. Origin: Italy. Does this fruit come from the plantation on which your best friend works illegally?

You have not heard anything from him for a long time and you hope that he was not deported. The last text he sent you was about the poor working conditions, telling you that he would not be able to keep going much longer.

Look at orange

You wish that you would have never separated after the tough weeks in the refugee camp.

But he, as an economic refugee from Burkina Faso, did not have any chance for asylum, while you, as you are from Syria, were granted asylum in Germany.

The thought that the fruit might have been harvested by him disgusts you. Behind you, somebody is mumbling something.

Create space for others

Inside of you is a battle between the desire for the sweet orange, which would help you in your homesickness, and the bitterness that your friend might have been exploited for it.

But what about the organic oranges from Spain?

Almost twice as expensive. You need every penny though, to finance your parents the escape from Syria.

Buy organic oranges
Get the no-name oranges
Mister Grau
Germany, Black Forest, Villa

2018

The numbers are clear: Organic products are trending . It seems like more and more people are paying attention to buying more ecological products.

You decide to widen the range of organic products. Right now, the company is using the organic label with the lowest standards.

To lower the costs even further, you are thinking about whether you could create your own organic label.

Sigh

For decades now, you are at the helm of the company. It generated e incredible wealth of 41 billion euros and focused on the needs of the poorer people.

The concept of the discounter was a great idea and in the first couple of years, you were able to beat the competition with innovative methods.

But suddenly, a dirty price fight between the different supermarkets started. After every possibility to lower costs was already used, the wages were lowered as well.

View this year’s profit

By now, the wages are so low, that your employees have no other option than buying the cheapest products in your store.

You could buy a kilogram of oranges for a few euros – but is that the real price?

Depleted employees, destruction of nature, climate change. Your own philosophy hasn’t been working for a long time anymore.

Reflect

It cannot go on like this.

How can you use the power of your company, in order to lead a sustainable change, without going bankrupt?

Support higher environmental and social restrictions through lobbyism
Stop selling conventional fruits, offer organic products only
Hakim
Germany, Dresden

5 years later

It is spring, and it seems like change will come soon.

Since you married Rebecca, you feel much happier in Germany. Thanks to her help, you were able to overcome the shock and sorrow that arose in you when you heard that your parent’s house in Syria got completely destroyed in a bomb attack.

You started to focus on the present and got used to the detachment that some people are showing.

Move Soy milk over the shelter

The only thing that reduces your newly found happiness is that you are doing the same work day in and day out at the discounter.

You earn a much higher minimum wage, and the number of products that are traded fairly and do not contain any plastic is constantly growing.

But you are sick of moving goods on the shelfs, giving back change and wishing people a good day.

Wish a customer a good day

Your wife told you that the EU introduced a sustainability index, supporting innovative ideas in order to transform agriculture. Suddenly, you see so many chances arising.

Write a request to open up an aquaponic-farm
Realize your childhood dream and cultivate land in a sustainable way
Hakim
Germany, Dresden

27 years later

It is insane how much Dresden has changed.

Now, the people are smiling and greeting each other politely on the street.

Everybody is only working a few days per week, in jobs they enjoy, because nobody has to worry about food. Your aquaponic farm have spread around the city and are now producing enough food for the entire population. They can get in for free.

Go on

But the best thing is, that your old friend from Burkina Faso called you back.

After the old fruit plantation was closed according to new EU rules, he went back to his hometown.

With the help of the money which he got as compensation , he founded a cooperative . By now, the concept of cooperative agriculture is very popular in Burkina Faso.

Think about the future

Since the continent of Africa is not flooded by cheap goods from Europe, the country took a great development.

Your friend and his family are scheduled to visit you in about 2 months. After 30 years, you will finally see him again

Finish Story
Hakim
Germany, Dresden

27 years later

You feel relief as your permaculture garden is still able to resist the bad drought of the last few years .

By now, it is so hot here, that you can plant the trees from back home here.

Slowly, you are walking along the small, dry path, which is moving its way through the garden, looking at the black olives, the mature figs and the young orange trees you just planted a couple of years ago with great pride.

Move ahead

You and your family are full of pride about the small piece of land , and it helped you to earn a high reputation among the city’s inhabitants.

This year will be a good year. Enough fruits can be provided to the open kitchens in the different areas of the city.

The time when you were moving goods packed in plastic over the counter of the discounter is long over and stays as a dark memory, as well as the frustrating months during which you did not know what was going on with your friend.

Pick an orange

By now, he is also living in Germany and is the main chef of the open kitchen, serving delicious, traditional meals from Burkina Faso to students for their lunch.

As the city’s inhabitants are sharing their food, the solidarity between them increased significantly

You hope that it is strong enough that it can also resist the challenges arising with climate change.

Finish Story
Inspector Gonzalez
Spain, Almeria

4 years later

You are inspector of the Comité Andaluz de Agricultura Ecologica (CAAE), currently on your way to a control of organic farmers in the contended region of Almeria.

You are driving along huge greenhouses with plastic coverage, fountains and water pipe systems.

Stop in front of the organic farm

The farmers are giving you a tour through the massive greenhouses. Obviously, there is not much going on.

Maybe the rumours about the poor working conditions are not true. But you feel like the workers did not come to work due to your control.

Slowly, you find your way through the sun-flooded greenhouse with countless rows of oranges to your sides.

Take samples

With the samples of earth and fruit for the food laboratory in your luggage, you have the idea of driving to the surrounding area of Almeria, at the edge of the greenhouses.

What you see shocks you . You are standing on dried out ground covered in old plastic, which comes from the greenhouses.

Shake your head

This is against every principle of sustainable agriculture.

But still, there is nothing you can do against those farmers because the organic label, with which they produce their goods, has an extremely low standard and does not forbid those kinds of practices.

There are not many options left for you.

Start a protest action, in order to show the practices to the consumers
Deliver wrong samples to the laboratory, so that the farmers would lose their organic label
Hakim
Germany, Dresden

1 year later

Bored, you move the goods over the counter, continuously hearing the monotone beep in your ears. You realized that the people are paying more and more attention to a high quality of their foods, with serious quality labels.

Some products with a specific kind of organic label earned a bad reputation, as a Spanish inspector called to action against social and ecological deficits, also found in organic production.

Move oranges over the counter

By now, you are very distrustful of the products of your own store. Instead, you joined a community of consumers, which are only using fruits and vegetables from the region.

At least your friend informed you that the controls got more strict as a consequence of the protests in Italy.

Think about your friend

Apparently, some farmers are trying to corrupt the inspectors in order to move ahead in the same way.

Sometimes you are really wondering about the sense of the whole system, which makes people use deceitful strategies. On the monitor in front of you, you can see the sum of the different amounts: 1,49€, 2,89€, 4,76€…

Suddenly you start dreaming. Could there be a world without money, without prices, without the pursuit for profit?

Look up

„That is going to be 21,33€. Have a good day!”, you say to the young woman, lost in thought.

„Thank you very much, you as well.” She gives you a bright smile.

It is this smile, which gives you the courage to believe in your dream.

Finish Story
Hakim
Germany, Dresden

6 years later

It’s ringing. You are already laying in your bed, getting up surprised.

An unknown number.

Wondering about the number, you pick up. The voice seems known. He is greeting you in Spanish, but you notice his west-african accent right away.

Listening

He tells you that he escaped to Spain once he could not stand the fruit plantation any longer, and his demand for asylum finally got accepted after two years.

He had a horrible time, laid in the hospital for a long time, fighting cancer and infectious disease.

Hold your breathe

The doctors already gave up any hope, but he survived. Now he is working for the Spanish Organic Control Agency (CAAE).

His precursor got fired afterhe was found sending wrong samples to the laboratories. You are certain that he will do a better job, as he is very precise.

Right now, he is sending most of the money he is earning to his family back in Burkina Faso. But in about a year, when he has saved up enough money, he will come to visit you in Germany.

Finish Story
Luigi
Italy, unknown place

2 hours later

As you come back to consciousness, you are laying at the edge of the fruit plantation, looking in the black eyes of a worker, whose name you forgot.

„Drink this.“, he tells you with a slight tunisian accent, pressing his water bottle in your hand. The sun is burning right in your face.

Seems like you collapsed while you were monitoring the work on the plantation.

You painfully take a sip

Too much heat, in addition to the stress caused the large supermarket chain increasing the pressure again.

They are excellent in letting the small fruit producers battle each other and keep lowering the prices more and more. Those who want to keep up have to pay a price.

You are still embarrassed while watching the plantation workers.

[Squint your eyes

You see sweat on their dark skin, but their faces stay without any emotion, while they water the fruit, put in hand on the earth and yield the fruits.

They work from early to late for the plantation, sleep under a plastic plane and keep their energy level only through their extraordinary mind set.

Sometimes you feel like a slaveholder.

Blink frightened

Are the workers not happy to have a job at all?

Otherwise, they would have probably long been deported.

But did you really have to take their money for the old mattress additionally?

Treat the workers better in the future
Keep the costs at a low level, otherwise you will a end up at the street
Luigi
Italy, unknown place

1 year later

Your last plantation just closed. Other farm owners were not as reluctant as you were.

At some point, you could not stand the pressure of the supermarket concerns any longer and your business got sold to others.

Just now, as you are out of the business, you realize the dangerous spiral of dependence and money.

Walk to the beach

Due to the drought, the ground is cracking everywhere.

The groundwater sinks constantly, is salted and contaminated, there is plastic laying everywhere around, unstable through the sun solarization.

For the first time, you realize the unbelievable consequences of this kind of exploitative agriculture.

Shake your head

You are sick of this system, sick of the greed for consumption.

It turned your big dream, becoming a farmer, into a nightmare.

You feel tired, you really just want to have freedom.

Apply at a Demeter wine-growing estate
Go into the mountains, away from this craziness
Luigi
Italy, Vineyard

10 years later

You feel a bitter taste on your tongue, as you show the two men around the vineyard.

One of them worked for you back in the days, the other one, Hakem or something like this, is a good friend of his from Arabia – or Syria?

They opened a deli, which got really famous.

Present them your different wines

They discuss for a while, but then decide to select the dry red wine for their range of products.

You are a little bit jealous about their ascension . But on the other hand, you can also consider yourself lucky.

For the first time, you experienced what it really means to work with sustainable agriculture.

Smile

Profit and growth is not the most important factor here, but human and nature.

The demand for your high-quality products is still unwavering .

You hope that this trend stays on and that your grandchildren can grow up in a country like Italy, where no human has to suffer through the food production industry.

Finish Story
Luigi
Italy, Alps

50 years later

It is so beautiful here, you already forgot about the world down there with all its problems.

In the isolation of the alps, you built a small cabin, with a garden full of vegetables, and with several goats and chickens, providing you with the all you need.

You were caught by the magic of the mountains, but time did not stand still.

Step groaning in front of your cabin

You did not even realize how old and scraggy you got.

Removing the weed from your patch is getting more difficult every day, and if you go down to yield the young carrots from the ground, your back hurts.

Weeding the patch

50 years ago was the last time you exploited someone, in the meantime you took care of yourself, lived in harmony with nature.

You are proud about your lifestyle change. At the same time, you realize how you grew distant from the world.

One day, you will die lonely here in the mountains. Nobody will confront you and your actions, but there is also nobody who is going to miss you. Does it really have to end like this?

Finish Story
Leader of branch
Germany, Dresden

3 years later

Somebody is carefully knocking at the door, the door opens. You see how nervous the young man is, even though he has already been working in the branch for 3 years .

He greets you and shows you pictures on his phone, taken by his friend. His friend took them secretly, with the danger of losing his job.

Now he disappeared. Someone probably took his phone away.

Look at the pictures

Destroyed tents, surrounded by plastic trash, frustrated and nervous people, incredibly long rows of fruits; one worker, covering his face with his hands because he got contaminated by aggressive pesticides…

The pictures of horror just do not end.

Look up

„The fruits, which we sell here come from this plantation.”, the young man says.

His German is almost perfect, without an accent. “Please, can you not do something against that?”

„I am just the leader of the branch.”, you respond to him, “I have no influence on the contracts with our suppliers.”

End the conversation

The images stay in your head. If the discounter would only sell certified fruits, something like that would not have happened.

But many of your customers just do not earn enough money to buy that kind of fruits, produced socially and ecologically responsible.

What would happen to your sales?

Stand up for certified fruits in a meeting with your boss
Get the idea out of your head, rather stay with your customers
Hakim
Germany, Dresden

1 year later

Without focus, you move the goods over the counter. You do not even realize the monotonous beep.

On your bosses’ behalf, the company created a new label , which marks sustainably produced products.

An already existing label would have made the products too expensive.

Greet customer

You are thankful that your boss stood up for you, but you have doubts about the usefulness of the label .

The products are extremely cheap, leaving only a small chance that the social and ecological standards are being kept, which the discounter is using for their advertisement.

Say goodbye to customer

You still have not heard anything from your friend.

You decided to leave Germany soon in order to go back to Italy and look out for your friend.

Finish Story
Hakim
Germany, Dresden

1 year later

Everything seems so to be like usual: the monotonous beep of the pay desk, the cold-hearted behalf of the Germans, the unfriendly looks, as if you should disappear from here.

The lethargy concerning the pain in the world makes you shiver.

The civil war back home is still on-going.

Move fruit over the counter

Also climate change keeps getting worse.

Viewing the old fig and olive trees which survived the war and are now drying out in the heat, you broke out in tears.

Either way, you cry permanently when thinking about your friend

Wish the customer a nice day

Your friend did not have the power anymore to keep on working at the fruit plantation, but he was also not able to live with the humiliation to return to his home country without bringing back something from Europe other than weals on his hands and feet.

After his phone was taken away from him, he could not even call his family anymore.

Since then , you have not heard anything from him.

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