The Asparagus Airlift

Zur deutschen Fassung dieses Artikels.

To fight the Corona virus pandemic, Romania has imposed a very strict curfew, which is being controlled by the police and by the military. Now, the happiest people are those living in the countryside and those who have at least a balcony, from which to marvel at the super moon and the sparkling stars in the skies, as clear as never before since the invention of the jet engine. (One of many Romanian inventions, by the way.)

But yesterday, Romanians were wondering when they looked up: What’s with all the planes? Where do they come from? Where are they going? Why? What about the curfew and the travel ban?

Even at a small airport like Cluj, the flight plan looks very full these days, albeit with a narrow choice of destinations.


These are the flights for the people who are supposed to save the asparagus harvest in Germany. Apparently, asparagus is very important there. (I am German and I hate that vegetable.) Or maybe it’s the profit of the asparagus farmers which is really important, hence their refusal to accept the help of German workers, preferring to charter planes, flying vegetable pickers from Romania and Bulgaria directly onto the plantation.

Because these people are already used to working hard, working long hours, being housed in crammed conditions and getting paid the lowest possible wages, if at all. I guess this is what the asparagus barons mean when they say that the Romanians are already “experienced”. By the way, most of the other fruits and vegetables which we buy at the supermarket are only so cheap because they are produced under conditions which haven’t improved much since “The Grapes of Wrath”.

The only good thing about it? If you never wanted to eat vegetables, you can now decline them on moral grounds. Let’s hope the conditions on chocolate and tobacco plantations are better.

This was at the airport in Cluj yesterday.


When it comes to asparagus, all the safety rules on keeping distance are scrapped, it seems. Well, if the Romanians get sick in Germany, they will at least be able to communicate in Romanian there. Because the German healthcare system relies on thousands of Romanian doctors and nurses, too.

How naturally some peoples or nations are regarded as a pool of labor for Germany (and as nothing else beyond that) does raise the suspicion that the image of the “Ostarbeiter” is still in the minds of many.

Gruppe von Ostarbeitern vor Fahrt nach Deutschland

Somehow, this leaves a bad aftertaste. Like asparagus itself.


Now that you are going to boycott asparagus, maybe you can spare a few of the dollars/pounds/euros thus saved to support this blog? I guarantee that my articles are far more nutritious than that strange vegetable.

About Andreas Moser

Travelling the world and writing about it. I have degrees in law and philosophy, but I'd much rather be a writer, a spy or a hobo.
This entry was posted in Economics, Germany, Politics, Romania and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to The Asparagus Airlift

  1. Pingback: Luftbrücke für den Spargel | Der reisende Reporter

  2. Anonymous says:

    Sounds like they way people from Mexico (or further south) are treated here in California. It’s disgusting, like asparagus.

    • Again anonymous… WordPress is so weird sometimes.

    • California really has much better fruits and vegetables than asparagus, not an acre of soil should be wasted for that weird thing.

      And I am particularly bothered by the combination of exploitation and the racist undercurrent, with which many people in our countries treat the people from other countries. They are good as construction workers, farmhands and cleaning ladies, but not interesting as human beings with stories and thoughts.

  3. The title sounds to me like the name of a supernatural movie 😁

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