Friday, August 7, 2015

The Blackcurrant Conspiracy

I recently read a news report which said Tesco was no longer going to carry Ribena because it had too much sugar.   Whaat?  Well, there’s my childhood memories ruined.  I loved Ribena, and in fact I still do.  Every time I go home I manage to smuggle import the biggest bottle I can in my suitcase. Looks like I will have to do my shopping elsewhere next time.

I admit I have never seen half of these
I was commenting on this to my colleagues and nobody, absolutely nobody, knew what Ribena was, obviously, but what was more surprising was they don’t even know what a blackcurrant is.  Okay, how can you possibly have never heard of a blackcurrant?
Yes, it's a blackcurrant
This got me curious so I googled did some research on why the humble blackcurrant is so illusive in the USA.  Here’s what I found out:

In 1705, Lord Weymouth shipped American ‘white pine’ seedlings to England and as the tree spread across Europe, blister rust disease began affecting them.  Unknown to the Americans who were suffering from depleted forests at that time, they began importing the seedlings back to the USA, which obviously brought the disease here, threatening the US Timber industry.  A fancy plant pathologist was called in who decided the disease did not jump from tree to tree, but instead went from tree to blackcurrant bush to the next tree.   [Talk about going around the houses!]

So they did what any reasonable person would do – they banned the farming and cultivation of blackcurrants, of course, and for over 100 years the poor little blackcurrant has been called the “forbidden fruit.”  No wonder nobody here’s ever heard of them.  

There have been a few states who have overturned the ban, but not enough of them so I can get my flippin' Ribena, unfortunately.  I think I am going to have to go on a one person crusade to get people to understand how brilliant blackcurrant is.  Or, next time I’m in Blighty, maybe I can find a bush and bring it back in my suitcase - "Nope, nothing illegal going on here officer".  I’m sure I could plant it in my garden (although I've never really had green fingers!)

Can I get them in my suitcase?
Now I’ve got myself all discombobulated, I went back to look at other news articles about the Tesco ban and it turns out they’ve actually only stopped selling the little lunchbox versions of the full sugar drink.  They will still be selling the big bottles (for adults) and "no sugar added" versions for kids. This is what happens when I get all my news from reading only the headlines…. ask anyone, I do it all the time!  

But who would have known that the blackcurrant would have been so vilified by America, bless!

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