The same goes for tomatoes, strawberries, potatoes and virtually all of the greengrocery shelves. Milk and dairy quality remains superb, but rather for freshness than taste. You need to visit the bi-weekly farmers' markets to buy real, quality fresh fruit and veg here - or drive forty minutes across the border to the nearest Italian market town. Austria has sleepwalked into the same corporatist hell of consistent mediocrity that has destroyed British horticulture.
It's not just the EU - it's the power of advertising, fear of uncleanliness and the triumph of the global petrochemical corporates. There's also a Disneyfication of what the natural environment should look like. I am insistent that the environment starts with flies; flies that cluster around cow stalls, thrive on dung and hug the meadows. Fly catchers such as the black redstarts now raising their second brood of the year in my rafters can get through 1.2kg of flies in a season; my cheeky wall-lizards, majestic fire salamanders, graceful grass snakes and adventurous slow-worms and all the other reptiles and amphibians sharing my space here all depend on insects / invertebrates. Once you get rid of your domestic livestock - two cows in the stalls, a pig in its sty, chickens in the yard, maybe a goat or two - you also lose the richness of your reptile and amphibian life. But such things, like outside lavvies, are considered too 'peasant', not consistent with the sophistication of a two-tonne 4x4 with chrome bull bars and a set of brown plastic wicker garden chairs.
As I write, from my study window I see in the meadow below a roe hind has brought her two fauns from the copse to graze. The meadows are alive with a procession of butterflies, each type appearing in turn as its particular flowers come into bloom, more types of butterfly than I ever saw in a lifetime in England, but here the meadows are unsprayed, chem-free and with a riot of wild flowers that it takes five grand and the Chelsea flower show to achieve in the home counties.
So the news that Germany is demanding that French agriculture 'modernises' is really not good news for anyone in Europe who values food quality. The only problem with French agriculture is that the farmers think it's their right to be rich. It really isn't. But their refusal to take steps that could 'rationalise' French cheese to six standard types and allow bread factories to sell extended-life baguettes for 14 days after baking is wholly commendable.
Austria has lost her native universal food quality, victim to the EU and the corporates. Only Romania and Bulgaria still maintain sustainable, environmentally good agriculture with a richness of taste and variety, largesse of produce and quality of life - and the manufacturers of EU subsidised tractors and cheap-lease heavyweight 4x4s are already moving in, the horses already on their way to the knacker.
|The EU's hatred of sustainable agriculture will destroy our environment|