Tuesday, June 15, 2004

FUN WITH WORDS. Frozen, batter-dipped french fries are a fresh vegetable, says George Chartier, a spokesman for the USDS's Agricultural Marketing Service (per USA Today), and Federal District Judge Richard Schell of Beaumont, Texas agrees.

This is not (despite Julia's headline) another ketchup-as-vegetable school-lunch tsimmis. The ruling does not apply to nutritional standards. It's meant to fulfill some Soviet-style scheme to place Tater Tots and such like under the authority of the Perishable Agricultural Commodities Act (PACA), which, the USDA says, "prohibits unfair and fraudulent practices and provides a means of enforcing contracts. Under the PACA, anyone buying or selling commercial quantities of fruit and vegetables must be licensed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture."

Unfortunately, according to USA Today, this change in status has fucked with the Fleming Companies' Chapter 11 filing. Because the deep-fried 'n' breaded goodies Fleming distributed to supermarkets are now, voila, fresh vegetables, under PACA Fleming must pay back every bit of what they owe on said commodities, instead than whatever fraction the bankruptcy court would have allowed.

I'd say this is a reminder of the profound unfairness of life, but who the hell needs to be reminded?

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