La Tomatina is an annual festival that is held in the Valencian town of Buñol, a town located in the East of Spain. An estimated 20,000 – 40,000 people, depending on which version you choose to believe, from around the world join in this huge tomato fight which takes place on the last Wednesday every August and lasts only an hour. Billed as ‘the world’s largest food fight’, some 120 – 175 tons (again, depending on which version you believe) of tomatoes are thrown during that hour. Only about 8% of the participants are from Spain, the rest are from all over the world, predominantly Australia, Japan, United Kingdom and USA.
Legend has it that La Tomatina “started during the annual town festival in hour [sic] of their patrons San Luis Bertran and the Our Lady of the Forsaken. One parade that takes place during the town fiesta is the parade of the giant heads. As just so happened one year back in the 1940’s some youngsters wanted to participate in this parade but the participants didn’t let them join. In a moment of youthful impulse the kids barged into the parade knocking down one of the participants. When this person got back on his feet, furious with what had occurred, he went to the nearest stall and grabbed the first thing he could find—some tomatoes.” (Check out some interesting info here.)
Sounds like great, innocent fun, right? Well, if you like having tomato goo in your hair and eyelashes, anyway. But this year the people of Nigeria are none to pleased with the upcoming festival in Spain …
We turn our attention to Nigeria, some 2,287 miles from Spain. According to the Nigerian government, Tuta absoluta, a type of moth that can ravage tomato crops (it is also known as tomato leafminer and also as Tomato Ebola), has been responsible for the loss of nearly 80% of the country’s tomato crops. Tomatoes are to Nigerian cuisine what potatoes are to the Irish. The result of the damage to the tomato crop is damage to the wallet of Nigerians, with the price of tomatoes increasing from an equivalent of about $1.20 per box to more than $40 per box in just the last few months. Agriculture Commissioner Daniel Manzo Maigari said at a news conference Monday that 200 farmers have lost $5.1 million in the past month alone.
The tomato crisis is the latest setback for the country’s unstable northern region, where Boko Haram terrorists have killed more than thousands of people and displaced millions more in recent years. The tomato shortage represents a crisis of a different kind, but as Nigeria’s Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Audu Ogbeh said Tuesday, a crisis all the same.
So you can understand why Nigerians are not too happy to see all those tomatoes being wasted in a single hour in Spain. I do not see a solution here … obviously Spain is not going to send their tomatoes to Nigeria instead of enjoying their 70-year-old traditional festival this year. And even if they did, it would be only a drop in the bucket toward fulfilling Nigeria’s need for tomatoes. I just thought it was an interesting contrast.
What would you call the result of a pairing between a polar bear and a grizzly bear? A ‘pizzlie’ or a ‘grolar’? I think I like pizzlie better … it sounds cuter. It’s a blend that’s been turning up more and more these days in parts of Alaska and Western Canada. “Textbooks say these two species aren’t supposed to inhabit the same environments. Polar bears are marine mammals; grizzlies are terrestrial. But as the Arctic warms, sea ice is shrinking and the tundra is expanding. And the bears’ disparate populations are meeting, mating and creating a new breed that’s capable of reproducing.” (Popescu, Washington Post, 23 May 2016).
According to National Geographic (17 December 2010), “The polar and grizzly are currently on the U.S. endangered species list. Hybridization can be the final straw in loss of species.” There are some 34 different types of hybrids that may occur, including the ‘coywolf’, a coyote-dog-wolf amalgamation.
No particular reason for either of these stories … they just caught my eye and I thought they were interesting. Mostly I just didn’t want to write about politics tonight.