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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

The Case of the Copious Cucumbers

Flash! The Moscow government will be issuing free cucumbers to all schoolchildren, due to the flooding of the city's market with the vegetables, Open Radio told their sleepy English-language listeners one recent morning.

A leftover April Fool's joke? Not according to Igor Zverev of City Hall.

"Yes, there is an oversupply of cucumbers in the capital, and it has been proposed that the cucumbers be distributed to school cafeterias before they rot", said Zverev.

But since the motion has so far only been put forward, and not actually passed, who knows if the cucumbers will slay fresh long enough for the Committee For the Distribution of Cucumbers to get around to a final vote on the issue.

And by that time, Muscovites may be positively sick of the sight of the once-prized vegetable.

The cause of this sudden influx of cucumbers -- which were so rare this winter they were fetching up to 3, 000 rubles a kilo at the markets -- remains unclear. The stale still purchases all its produce through the old Soviet network of sovkhozi and kolkhozi -- state and collective farms -- renowned around the world for their low levels of efficiency and productivity. But Zverev staunchly supported the efforts of the laboring farmworkers.

"They have obviously outdone themselves this year", he said.

But why should the kolkhozniki have been overcome with a sudden streak of zealotry? Perhaps it has more to do with the fact that local government's control over distribution has become less rigid, since more and more private businesses now place their own orders outside the state system. In other words, everybody ordered too many cucumbers.

Russian schoolchildren receive free lunches from the first to the fourth class, and after that pay a 600-ruble fee per month to eat in the school cafeterias. School lunches here are like school lunches anywhere, so any new addition to the menu is bound to be welcome.

"We haven't had any cucumbers for months", said Semyon Boguslavsky. head of School 79. "So it would be nice to get some cucumbers. But we haven't heard anything about receiving any".

Zverev mentioned that there had been previous distributions of apples and other fresh fruits and vegetables when the city had a surplus, but Boguslavsky had never heard of such a thing

"I don't ever remember getting anything extra", he mused.

Schoolchildren may not be getting very much of anything extra, either. Moscow city government officials refused to comment on the exact quantity of cucumber allotted to each child, but the daily Moskovsky Komsomolets reported that each child would he receiving 20 grams of cucumber every other day. About two slices? At that rate, it's unlikely to make much difference to their vitamin C intake.