Now, this may seem random, but I flat out refuse to buy onions from Australia. Why not onions from Kazakhstan or Senegal, I hear you ask (because you are asking, surely). Well, they were not actually on offer at my local supermarket, but Australian onions were. To add to the lunacy they cost €1.49 a kilo and the much larger and fresher Portuguese onions in the box next to them – admittedly not packaged in a fetching orange fishnet bag – cost €0.89 per kilo. At what point does a supermarket buyer (and by that I mean the people who decide what the supermarket stocks and not the people who shop there) think, ‘I know where we could get the onions from… Queensland’?
Since way before Portugal had to be bailed out by the EU and the IMF I’ve been an avid label reader, checking all the produce boxes for the origins of my fruit and veg. My previous argument was an environmental one and now it’s backed up by an economics argument that goes something like, ‘buy Portuguese produce so your money can stay in Portugal and help us crawl out of this mire.’ If the supermarket I’m in doesn’t have Portuguese carrots, or potatoes or whatever I sometimes buy Spanish produce and have even ventured to the exotic climes of France and occasionally the Netherlands, but shipping the humble basis of almost every Portuguese dish all the way from Oz is a step too far for me. They might as well start trying to flog me olive oil from Pakistan for all the sense it makes.
I’ll also have no truck with apples or garlic from China (and, yes, I’ve seen that too), grapes from Chile or oranges from anywhere further than the Algarve. There’s no issue with Brazilian papayas or Indian mangoes, these fruits are not, after all, grown here in Portugal, or at least not on a large enough scale to be sold to me. It is true though that I don’t often buy them because I’m certain my carbon footprint is pretty gargantuan as it stands
Call me a radical protectionist, but buying products from another country that are easily produced and plentiful in your own country is tantamount to robbing your neighbours and in my area this is almost literally the case. Where I live, I am surrounded by vegetable producers that supply Portugal’s supermarkets with huge quantities of produce. Every onion, lettuce, or cabbage I buy that is from some other part of the globe means fewer euro cents for these businesses and I could be putting people I know out of a job. This idea also extends to the rest of the country, too. So, Australia, how do you like them onions?