Did you hear about the strawberry terrorism in Australia? 100 sewing needles were found hidden in strawberries in all of the Australian states, pushing the country into a strawberry panic. As of this writing, there were also a couple of cowardly copycat crimes in which needles were found in a banana and an apple.
There has been a general recall of strawberries from supermarket shelves and many importers of strawberries have blocked all Australian strawberry imports, causing a huge impact on the country’s farmers. Strawberry production is big business in Australia.
The Australian government reacted quickly and announced tougher penalties for food tampering, and increased the maximum prison sentence for this crime to 15 years. The Australian Department of Agriculture has begun to use metal detectors to scan the strawberries that are still being exported.
And in keeping with modern times, a social campaign, #SmashAStrawb, has gone viral, supporting strawberry growers by encouraging citizens keep buying strawberries, but not to bite into whole ones. Their slogan contains two idioms, “cut ‘em up” which means to cut up and recommends that consumers cut the entire strawberry into pieces, the ‘em part meaning “them”. And “don’t cut ‘em out” is asking that people not remove them, (meaning strawberries) from their diets, with the phrasal verb to cut out meaning to eliminate or to completely remove. As for “berry-tough” that is a play on words and means “very tough” or “very difficult”.
Smash is an Australianism and it means to eat or drink something enthusiastically in the Land Down Under. In American English, the word smash would mean to mash the delicate little berries with a bit of violence.
A lot of strawberry producers have been forced to dump their crops. However, many politicians and other public people have posted pictures of themselves eating strawberries, cutting strawberries, and sharing their favorite recipes for things like strawberry smoothies, milkshakes, cakes and pies. It’s a good time to discover new ways to use strawberries. The agricultural, legal and criminal part of this cowardliness has caused Australia to pull together, exemplifying the power of a united public.
But what about the needles? Some Australian stores have actually removed needles from their shelves temporarily! In my circle of friends and acquaintances, more and more people have been using one sort of needle or another for hobbies. Needles are supposed to be inexpensive little things that we use to do something that relaxes us, or that liberate our inner artists, not terrorist tools.
I was born near the end of WWII and raised in a small town in New Jersey, just a little more than a 30-minute drive from NYC. It was a wonderful place to be brought up, feeding ducks and canoeing on the river that meandered through the town in the summer, and ice-skating on that same river in the winter.
My two brothers and I were privileged to be raised in a lovely town that was safe to explore on foot, but close enough to NYC to be taken there on day trips to see the Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Baily B & B circus, museums, Chinatown, street fairs in the spring and Broadway shows as we grew older. But we thought nothing of it.
Later as teens, we would go into NYC to buy a couple of beers (the drinking age in New York State was 18, and 21 in New Jersey) and hang out in Greenwich Village where we saw singers such as Bob Dylan who were on the first rung of the ladder on their way to fame.
The sixties were a time of speaking out and creating change. I decided to do my part by joining the Peace Corps, an innovative cold war program established by John F. Kennedy in 1961. I arrived in Brazil at the end of 1966, and after an adaptation period, was sent to serve in Porto Nacional, in what was Goias at that time. I can’t say I changed the course of the country, especially as I was immediately called upon to teach English in the local high school.
I have been teaching ever since; high schools, college literature, college language pedagogy, financial English and everything in-between. I married a wonderful Brazilian from Rio and we had 3 boys and moved around some, as he was an engineer who worked on hydro dams. Nowadays I am a widow and live in BH with 3 cats, one of which has extraordinary powers, and I have 4 wonderful and uniquely different grandchildren nearby. Thus far, I have had an interesting life, and this new endeavor called a blog should make it even more interesting.