The Peach Dilemma

Some 12,000 tons of peaches and nectarines on Wednesday remained in refrigerators in Imathia – one of seven prefectures affected by the Russian food embargo – with another 13,000 tons of fruit remaining unpicked due to a flood of canceled deliveries.
Some 12,000 tons of peaches and nectarines on Wednesday remained in refrigerators in Imathia – one of seven prefectures affected by the Russian food embargo – with another 13,000 tons of fruit remaining unpicked due to a flood of canceled deliveries.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again – I’ve never been very interested in politics, but lately it just seems so much more applicable to my life than it ever did while I lived in the United States. In today’s political trash bin we have the issue of fruit.

Not just any fruit, but fruit grown by French (and other EU) farmers to be exported to Russia. You may not really be following the whole embargo train ( I know I wasn’t before I moved to France), but here’s a little snippet so you’re caught up to speed.

In a nutshell: A bunch of world leaders are acting like spoiled brats, and aren’t playing nice.

Here in France this is an issue because 1 billion dollars worth of exports went to Russia last year, and that money isn’t coming in this year because of the bans. This is especially bad since the French economy was already in a bit of a squeeze, even before the temper tantrums began.

BUT it also means that peaches are damn cheap, here. As are pears and apples. Since there’s nowhere to send the fruit, it’s being overstocked in most stores, so there is no shortage. This seems initially like a great problem to have, but it’s causing serious issues for smaller stores and especially farmers who were depending on the income the sales would produce.

And, overall, these bans and embargoes don’t really seem to be helping anyone, since the Russians are also experiencing problems with food pricing (some places with 60% increases).

Overall, nobody really likes to talk about politics, but enjoying the fruits of this problem are coming at a cost higher than initial thought would assume. I don’t really ever want to be the ignorant American living in another country, unaware of what’s going on in the world around me, so I think it’s important to look into things like this.

While living in Seattle may have made me feel like issues with Russia were on another planet, the reality is it’s now only a bit father than the distance from Alaska to Hawaii for me to get from here to Moscow. If there was a time to start paying attention, it’s now.

Value of EU agri-food products banned from entering Russia (€m 2013 figures) via The Guardian

The Land Of Taxes


When it comes to politics, I rarely stick my neck out in any one direction, but last night I had a conversation with my au pair family that really peaked my interest. See it was announced a few days ago, by the French Prime Minister, that the (then) current cabinet would be resigning their positions and would be replaced/reappointed on Tuesday (today). Kind of a big deal.

From what I’ve been told, and what I’ve researched, the chaos began because of some less than favorable actions of two cabinet members. Rather than call them out directly, though, it was apparently easier to reinstate a new cabinet entirely. Politics.

I’m not particularly sure how this wasn’t meant to directly reflect against the two members actions, however, since they were (it seems) the only ones to be replaced with the new appointments. Everyone else was reinstated to their same positions. But, that’s politics.

The main reason that I am actually interested in this debacle, though, is because of the taxation rates of France. You see, one of the primary issues with the government right now is that France has high unemployment, high taxes and an incredibly low approval rating for the President (17% – the lowest in modern history) and Prime Minister. According to my au pair family, income and property taxes have doubled for French families, in the past year. Creating a huge problem for the economy, because people’s incomes have not.

This being said, taxes in general in this country are exorbitant, and I think it might have been good that the economic minister has been replaced.Even as a non-permanent resident, the sales taxes, which are 20%, are a pretty hard pill to swallow.

Today, for example, I tried to order some watercolors for the kids on Amazon (France). First off, the water colors themselves were ridiculously high in price ( $8 a pop), but while they would have come out somewhere around $10 in the US, here they were $41.00 – and that’s for three basic kids sets (Crayola). As in the ones you buy in the US at Office Max for $1 at a back to school sale.

The fact is, I’ve noticed that pretty much all art supplies, in person or online are incredibly high priced here. I’m not sure if I’m just walking in the wrong stores, or if France just really has something against artists, but I’m really glad, right about now, that I brought an entire suitcase of art supplies instead of clothes.

I’m not really sure how this is going to play out as the year goes by, but I may have to get some US friends to mail me supplies. At this rate, even with exorbitant shipping costs, it’s cheaper to have things mailed to me from the US, than to actually buy them in France. That’s what life has come to.

Over and out.


Photo on 8-27-14 at 11.08 AM
I tested out the French Amazon yesterday to see if the rumors were true – they were! 24 hour shipping is real. I ordered this book yesterday at 2pm, and got it at 10am this morning!

Red, White and Blue

French, American and British Flags flying high this weekend.
French, American and British Flags flying high this weekend.

I love being in Europe, again, to recognize the American soldiers who fought and died to assist in the liberation of the globally oppressed, during WWII. We, as Americans, don’t really celebrate the victories, only the end of the war – which I’ve always thought was a pity.

But, walking around the French streets today, and seeing American flags flying in recognition of US assistance in the Liberation of Paris, was awe inspiring. Proud to be an American, today. But even more proud of the men and women who fought (and still fight) to bring peace to their fellow humans in distress.

Read more about the celebrations: