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Welcome to my blog, which was once a mailing list of the same name and is still generated by mail. Please reply via the "comment" links.

Always interested in offers/projects/new ideas. Eclectic experience in fields like: numerical computing; Python web; Java enterprise; functional languages; GPGPU; SQL databases; etc. Based in Santiago, Chile; telecommute worldwide. CV; email.

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Culture Jam

From: "andrew cooke" <andrew@...>

Date: Sun, 10 Jun 2007 11:58:20 -0400 (CLT)

When Robert came to visit he bought me some home-made jam from near
Valparaiso.  I liked it so much that Pauli tried to buy me some more for
my birthday.  It's not obvious where you buy home-made jam in Santiago,
but if you're not going to make it yourself one solution is to go to the
"gourmet" shops that sell local food.

So I have some jam from such a shop, and it's very nice (I must have said
many times how much breakfast means to me).  But maybe the best thing
about the jam is not what it tastes like, but the confused cultural
messages involved in its packaging.

The jars are very simple - squat, classic (ugly?) glass jars (bulging
cylindrical) with white lids.  I have three - blackberry, plum and cherry.
 All have the same sticker on the lid, which proudly says "Agroindustria
Rio Calle Calle".  Agroindustria suggests some huge mechanised processing
plant, but the rest of the name - Rio Calle Calle looks like a
spanish-ised spelling of a Mapuche (indigenous S Chile) river name  -
suggests this comes from somewhere in the countryside down in the South of
the country.

On the front of the jar is a large label.  At first glance all the jars
have similar, but distinct labels.  Each has a large "Agroindustria Rio
Calle Calle" with logo, and then an artist's impression of "countryside",
but each has the (different) type of the jam displayed along the top.  The
labels are typical mass-produced, printed, labels.  The design is very
unsophisticated -the logo is a completely different style (solid, bold,
stylized) to the "countryside" (originally a watercolour); various
somewhat random fonts are used (with the kind of look that suggests they
were chosen from a drop-down list of maybe 40 different options in
someone's paint program).  The paper is thin and the labels are a simple
rectangular cut.

So at this point the impression (despite(?) "Un Producto Natural" in large
letters along the bottom) is cheap, poorly designed, mass produced.

But if you look a little closer, there are actually *three* labels on the
front of the jar.  One main, central one, contains the logo and
countryside picture (I suspect the jars are bought with this label
pre-attached).  Above that, a separate strip says "Mermelada de Ciruela"
(on the cherry jam), at an angle and position which suggest it was
(carefully) added by hand.  The third label - with nutritional information
- also varies by jam type and again appears to be hand-added.  Finally,
each label contains, on the bottom right corner a HAND WRITTEN (in blue
biro) date and weight.

So each one of these jars of jam, from the "Agroindustria", is put
together largely by hand.

The innocence of it all practically breaks my heart.  What aspirations
lead to calling yourself an "Agroindustria" when you are hand packaging? 
Whose son or daughter designed the logo (as I did, many years ago, for my
parent's small business)?  How long before this farm (or cooperative?) is
bought by a larger corporation, with a real designer, that knows how to
make "artesan" labels in thick, textured paper, cut with rough edges?

Sometimes I can love this country.

Andrew

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