New status symbol

I live equidistant from two agricultural markets, in one of which the sellers are farmers, members of a cooperative or their respective intermediaries, and the other of which is run by the Youth Labor Army (EJT). In the first there is nearly every fruit, vegetable, other food and even pork. The State (EJT) market rarely has more than sweet potatoes, peppers, onions and green papayas, and when there is some kind of meat the lines are longer. But the fundamental difference between these two markets is not variety but price, so much so that my neighbors call the market run by farmers “the market of the rich” and the market run by the EJT the market of the “poor.”

The truth is that to serve a fairly balanced meal you have to go to both. First you must inspect the stands full of the products that abound in the large EJT market, and then consult the whims and capricious quality of the polished tomatoes in the market of the “peasant farmers.”

Sometimes, overcome by desire and nostalgia, I buy a pineapple in the “market of the rich.” But I take care to bring a cloth bag to hide this queen of the fruits, this obscene symbol of status, from the jealous glances of others.

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