Mariann Fischer Boel Sees Nothing Wrong With A Bendy Cucumber

You couldn't make it up. Did you know that the EU has strict rules on how bendy a cucumber can be? Well it does, but maybe not for long if cucumber-loving MFB gets her wicked way. She'd now like to see your bendy cucumber nestling amongst her knarled and mis-shapen melons on the shelves of the local supermarket.

(The Independent) -- Never mind the common fisheries policy, the single currency, the MEPs' expenses gravy train and all the other myriad tales of Brussels that have been used to excoriate the European Union over the years. What has really damaged the reputation of the EU in Britain is the bent cucumber. Or to be more precise, the directive that forbade misshapen fruit and vegetables being sold as "class one" produce throughout the single market.

This was always a ridiculous rule. There is nothing about a vegetable's shape that determines either its taste or quality. Indeed, many would argue that such aesthetic discrimination has been positively harmful to the taste of the produce on sale in many of Europe's supermarkets, as suppliers have been encouraged to pay more attention to appearance than flavour.

Rising food prices look likely to put paid to the EU's fussy vegetables directive after the European Agriculture Commissioner, Mariann Fischer Boel, tabled a scheme to simplify the rules of marketing fruit and vegetables.

Among those to go would be the infamous "cucumber" quality standard which ensures that cucumbers bend more than 10mm for every 10cm of length cannot be labelled Class One vegetables. This directive has encouraged the food industry to waste tonnes of perfectly edible food every year. It has also reinforced the awful stereotype of meddling Brussels bureaucrats, humourlessly measuring bananas with their protractors.