The EU farm chief called for the comeback of the curvy cucumber and other odd-shaped produce sold in shops as part of proposals to ease market restrictions on fruit and vegetables amid rising food prices.
Agriculture Commissioner Mariann Fischer Boel said cash-strapped food buyers should be allowed to buy the less-perfect green bean, wobbly melon or stringy carrots that are not quite up to "grade A" uniformity standards, which have been in place for most fruit and vegetable products across the EU since the 1980s. "I don't think the size of the cucumber is so important for consumers, if you can buy at cheaper prices in a high-price market. I think that should be possible," she said. "I don't think I should waste my time to decide the shape of a cucumber... so let's get rid of this discussion where the (EU) Commission decides on the size of fruit and vegetables. We should leave this to the sector and to the consumer." However her plans face widespread opposition from EU capitals, many of which want to keep restrictions in place because they feel dropping the classification would confuse consumers. The rules have been used by Euro-skeptics to paint the EU as an overbearing bureaucratic body.