I FOUND a maggot in my apple.
Everyone made the usual jokes about how lucky I was not to have found only a severed half.
But I was actually quite pleased to see him. Like finding an old friend.
I haven’t found a maggot in my apple for years and there was a certain nostalgic warmth in saying hello.
This small pleasure in renewed acquaintance is thanks to my family. They’re green. This means they (and therefore I) don’t use plastic bags, we buy our clothes from op‑shops, and we eat organic food.
The point about organic food, they tell me, is that it’s better for you. No chemicals, additives, pesticides, artificial fertilisers or genetic engineering.
And a slug, now and then.
But the really weird part is – I’d rather have the slug and the maggot than the chemicals and the additives.
Funny how things work out: they used to say the great thing about free enterprise and a competitive market place was the choice. Entrepreneurs were free to invent jams or underwear in different colours, at different prices, with different kinds of allure.
Same with apples. They used to come in all shapes, size, colours and tastes (like the maggots).
There were George Caves – tiny pink apples, sweet as lollies, that came with the twigs and the leaves still on them.
But they don’t keep long. Just long enough to make it from the local backyard to the corner shop; but not long enough to be grown in Stanthorpe by the tonne, and freighted to Townsville for sale in chilled supermarket cabinets (George Caves hate chilling).
So they disappeared. Along with Winter Gems, Sunsets, Redsleeves, Greensleeves, Jupiters, Egremonts, Charles Ross, Russets, Limelights, James Grieves and Lord Lambournes.
To say nothing of cooking apples, like Howgate Wonders, Bramley’s Seedlings, Scotch Dumplings (it really is an apple and not an ingredient in a stew) and Sandringhams.
It’s not even that easy to get Granny Smiths any more, and they were invented in Australia!
Nowadays we’re restricted to apples that last; apples that grow easily and thrive on chemicals; apples that are genetically or otherwise engineered to give us all the superficial things that, in laborotaries somewhere, people in white coats have decided we want. Like an inviting colour (bugger the taste!) and uniform size.
Last time I was in the supermarket I counted four varieties, all the size of cricket balls.
Have these people in white coats never thought about the value of a cricket-ball-sized apples to a two-year-old? They take two bites and the rest of it rolls under the furniture where it avoids capture for three weeks while it collects hair balls and dead flies.
So we’ve swapped choice for giant monopolies and no choice (unless you like tuna, which now comes in tins, mixed with every ingredient in the world except heroin).
How did this happen? Because the people who now sell us apples (and everything else) aren’t interested in apples. They’re interested in money.
It’s the same disease that’s killing our farms. Accountants don’t smell the earth and the eucalypts, or see the sunsets and the family life. They see the money, and life is poorer because of them.
But it doesn’t have to be like that! We can fight!
That’s why I let my maggot go. I christened him Henry and I released him in a supermarket near me in the hope that someone else may one day find him (or maybe half of him) and realise, as I did, that there’s another way.