Things got messy pretty quickly.
Earlier this month, farmers in France participated in widespread protests to express their collective anger over a number of issues, including European trade policies, economic challenges, and a set of newly proposed environmental regulations that they say would further damage their ability to earn a living. In addition to blocking roadways and snarling traffic by driving their tractors on highways, the protesting farmers also destroyed crates of imported tomatoes, cabbages, and cauliflower.
France is also involved in a very specific tomato-based argument with Spain, and the farmers aren’t the ones who kicked this one off. This juicy disagreement started when Ségolène Royal, France’s former Minister of Ecology and a one-time presidential candidate, called out Spanish tomatoes during a TV interview.
“Have you tasted the so-called organic Spanish tomatoes? They’re inedible,” she said before adding that, “Spanish organic is fake organic.” She also said that the fruits and vegetables that France imports from Spain, “do not meet French standards and should not be on [supermarket] shelves.”
Spain, which is the world’s sixth largest tomato producer, didn’t take Royal’s words lightly. “I think Mrs. Royal has not had the good fortune of tasting the Spanish tomato,” Spain’s Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez said. “I’m inviting her to come to Spain and try any of Spain's tomato varieties, and she will see that the Spanish tomato is unbeatable.”
Sánchez also said that Spain had to follow the same regulations for organic produce that France and other European countries had to follow.
The Association of Spanish Professionals of the Organic Sector (Ecovlia) released a statement criticizing Royal's “unfounded declarations” before filing an official complaint against Royal with the European Commission. Spain’s Minister of Ecological Transition called Royal’s comments “inappropriate,” while one Spanish farmer simply said, “That lady has a palate problem.”
According to The Local, in recent years, Morocco has actually overtaken Spain as the European Union’s top tomato supplier, and France is the main importer of Moroccan tomatoes. Whew, nobody tell Ségolène Royal or international relations might get even messier.
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