Whenever I see examples of Earth’s abundance I feel mixed emotions. First, I feel joy and I want to celebrate and give thanks, but I also feel a sadness: a sense that we are simply exploiting the Earth, always taking but rarely giving anything back.
Whether it’s agricultural products from renewable resources or fish from the wild, seeing the sheer quantity of them “en masse” can be truly shocking.
Pile ’em High
Retailers love to “pile ’em high” to attract attention and sell more items. The sales technique works every time, whether you’re selling books, beans, or, as above in the featured image, mangoes. And again, below:
The mango shop in Bangkok’s Thonglor district is one of those delightful stores that specialises in a particular type of fruit of the very highest quality. They’re doing it right. They care greatly for each mango, handle it gently and reverently, and source it responsibly. I think we can celebrate such a business and feel positive emotion, as long as they don’t use too many plastic foam sleeves.
I’m more worried about the packaging of strawberries and cherries, as seen in the image below. Of course, these products look even more magnificent. They’re beautifully presented and appear utterly beguiling when a shaft of sunlight illuminates them, bringing out their brilliant colour.
But if all the strawberries (and other fruits) in the world start being packaged like this, I think it would terminate our planet very quickly. We’d become buried in a mountain of plastic.
Is there anything particularly poignant contained within the image? I’m not sure. I guess it depends on your attitude towards elaborately packaged products. The stallholder is checking her phone and doesn’t seem too concerned. I think she completes the image and the message it contains.
Yes, We Have Bananas
On Bangkok’s abundant food stalls you can find up to 27 different types of banana, often in two different shades: green and yellow. I think they’re wonderful to see when there’s no sign of packaging. Maybe no one’s invented individual sleeves for bananas.
I wish I could say the same for cantaloupes. At New Year’s, my partner’s father was given three cantaloupes by three different people and each one came in its own elaborate gift box. It’s becoming impossible to give fruit as a present without ensuring that it meets prevailing standards of gift-wrapping. You get plenty of gratitude, but it comes with more fill for the dumpster.
One of my favourite fruits is the pomelo (above), the ancestor of the grapefruit. Driving through the salt flats near Bangkok, motorists come eventually to dozens of stalls selling pomelos and young coconuts at wholesale prices.
Again, in these places there’s the expression of abundance which I find so poignant, obliging me to ask the driver to stop so I can take some pictures. Here’s one with a scrawny cat passing a red bin. I don’t think the animal is greatly impressed with all the fruit. You can starve amid plenty.
If you do happen to starve you’ll be needing a funeral wreath, the bigger the better. Here’s one, about to cross the road on its way to the temple. I wonder what sort of wreath we can give the Earth when we’ve finally killed it?