CARP (The Campaign for Real Plates)

Published on August 5, 2015


When I see and hear of the issues faced by asylum seekers attempting to enter Europe I can’t help but remark on the differences in wealth between the North and the South. It seems that while they risk life and limb in the Mediterranean and even the English Channel, we, in our warm comfortable homes and our brasserie lifestyle, are drowning in a sea of plenty.

But then I go to one of these seats of cuisine and wonder if it’s all an illusion: we are actually so deep in debt (89% of GDP at the last count) that we can’t even afford plates? Because the best that the latest miscreant can come up with is a lump of wood. That is hard enough to carry, unless you have developed thumb muscles sufficient to apply to an object 1 inch thick and 8 inches wide, never mind deposit it without the help of a 45° edge (commonly included on most standard plating receptacles) in front of said opulent diner AND without displacing the pomegranate seeds perched artistically atop the individually styled fare. It’s like getting your FD to use an abacus, to make the numbers look, and sound, more authentic.

Now the first world problem is passed to the diner. Keen to partake of pomegranates, after having shared her knowledge of their unique place as saviour of the Afghan economy and replacement crop to opium, her task is to move them to a place of digestion without having her place as a member of a world leading economy brought into question by the uncontrolled egress of these circular objects towards the wooden sub-substrate (commonly referred to in lesser circles as a table). NOT POSSIBLE.

I know, I have also tried, and I wonder why. I sort of understand the need to provide my food in individual pots: it’s the IKEA approach to productivity applied to food – assembly is no longer a cost of the seller but provided free by the buyer. But the plate thing I don’t get. Have you ever seen a dishwasher for lumps of wood? They’ll need to be washed by hand. And for that you’ll need some cheap labour, people whose skills don’t warrant a high wage or who are prepared to accept a low wage while they establish themselves here.

So maybe that’s what is happening: these wooden plates are there to make us aware of the need to employ people, even in unskilled jobs, in order to keep the world working relatively peacefully. In which case I’m now in favour.