This piece was published in the the Irish Times Magazine, Sound-Off column.
According to a tub of Greek olives I bought recently, each one of them had been “lovingly hand stuffed”. To that I say, my fat buttocks they were.
How can a supermarket be certain they’re hiring such compassionate stuffers? Wanted: experienced food handlers with a GSOH and genuine affection for nibbles. Do supervisors in the mega olive processing plant monitor the emotional output of employees as they ram garlic into snacks? “Be more loving with those Kamalatas Cathal!’ ‘A little more joy with the Halkadikis wouldn’t kill you Anne!” Are employees hooked up to lie-detector machines on their break to check if they felt the love whilst wedging sun-dried tomatoes into the cavities of batch number 502386?
I’m not naive. I used to be in the retail game myself (a tuck shop in Transition Year that got raided regularly by “the bad girls”). I know marketing horse-dung is all part of selling a product. Supermarkets don’t want us to think about our food being processed in sprawling industrial estates. They’d rather we visualise tanned, smiling folk happily toiling somewhere in southern Greece on the set of Mamma Mia 2. And no one wants to imagine men and women in hair nets and white wellies, grabbing olives as they slide down a stainless steel chute when they’re buying ‘bits’ for their mezze dinner party platter.
Tell me your olives are nice. Tell me they’re the best lads in all the land and have done all their homework. Go nuts and throw a sweet little picture of an olive tree on the package and I will eat it up on sourdough toast, but let’s not lose our minds. Take your ever loving olives and get stuffed.
Have I gone too far?
Olive it there so.