#BBCtrending: Poles #EatApples to annoy Putin

Compilation of apple images on Instagram Image copyright Instagram

An apple a day keeps the doctor away. And over the past day there's been a surge of people eating apples in Poland - but not for medical reasons. Poles have been posting images of apples on social media as a way of protesting against Russia.

On Wednesday, Russia announced a ban on some fruit and vegetable imports - including apples - from Poland "for sanitary reasons". Polish food producers say the ban is politically motivated as a response to EU sanctions, a claim Russia denies. In response, Poles have been showing their support for local farmers by campaigning on social media. It started on Twitter when the journalist Grzegorz Nawacki shared an image of himself eating an apple and used the hashtag #jedzjabłka, which means "eat apples".

Image copyright Twitter

"It's the most hurtful thing that could happen to Polish farmers. Over half of apples produced in Poland annually are exported to Russia." says Nawacki. "I thought the best way to help them would be to start eating more apples and drinking more cider. That way some of the apples will get consumed and people will show solidarity with farmers." The hashtags #jedzjabłka and #EatApples began trending on Twitter and within hours the humble Polish apple had become an internet meme. A Facebook page called Eat Apples to Annoy Putin is gathering some of the most popular parody pictures and has so far been liked almost 17,000 times.

The campaign has made national news headlines in Poland and the country's agriculture minister is among a number of politicians who've joined the campaign. One of the country's largest supermarket chains, POLOmarket, has also been actively endorsing the hashtag on its Facebook and Twitter pages. A special promotion on its website says, "POLOmarket joins the nationwide #jedzjabłka campaign to popularise the consumption of this great national fruit" and it features recipes where apples are a key ingredient. "I didn't expect it to become so big," Nawacki told BBC Trending. "Perhaps consumers realise they can shape and influence the reality."

Anger is growing in Europe over Russia's alleged relationship with Ukrainian rebels. The latest round of EU sanctions on Russia have been described as the toughest since the Cold War. Polish food producers have interpreted Russia's measures on Polish exports as the Kremlin hitting back. There are also reports that Russia may extend restrictions on food imports to the rest of the EU.

Reporting by Anne-Marie Tomchak

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