So the chaps at the EU, having wrung out all they can from legislating on the size and shape of cucumbers, have now turned their eyes to new pastures, this time towards things called cookies. They sound like another type of food but they are not.
A few explanations and definitions
Cookies are small text files which are stored on your computer. They are stored on your computer by websites to do various useful tasks. You can find out lots more about cookies here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/HTTP_cookie Wikipedia uses quite a few cookies - if you want to see which ones then read the last paragraph on this page.
A browser is the software which you use to surf the internet. That might be Firefox, Google Chrome, Internet Explorer, Safari, Opera, etc.
Cookies are really useful for keeping track of what is called a 'Session'. A session is how we know that you are you - which helps with shopping carts, logging in, etc.
So for example when you add, say, one a moisture meters to the shopping cart it is a little cookie on your computer which tells our website 'hi website, I have something in my shopping cart from a few hours ago, please can you go and look it up for me and display the right stuff on the screen for me. Please don't display someone else's cart to me, and please don't forget that I have something in my cart'. This cookie is just a reference to your cart (a number), not a reference to personal private information
If you log in somewhere on the site with a username and password then we would use a Session to let us know that you are logged in - which stops you putting in your username and password on every page which would be dead annoying.
We may also use a very simple cookie when you contact us so that we know you have done so already and, instead of making multiple references for you our systems can amalgamate everything under your original reference.
There are workarounds to using cookies to track sessions but they are not elegant! With the workaround the pages you visit on the website would end up being very very long, so long that you would often not really be able to make good sense of them.
Our cookies are set to expire and so after a certain amount of time your browser will delete them. This is how your browser is probably set up by default, but it is possible to turn this off in the settings (it is in Firefox anyway).
If you are really troubled by cookies you should be able to turn them off in your browser, either totally off, or you may be able to be asked each time a site wants to store one whether you want to allow it or not.
Please be aware: if you just turn them off that lots of shopping carts and things you log in to will probably stop working. If you opt to be asked each time then expect lots of popups - personally I would get tired of these.
This is done differently in each type of browser - just type the heading of this paragraph plus your browser name. An example for Firefox which I use - because it's cool - would be to type in "How to turn off cookies Firefox" into Google. I don't promise that all browsers will give you exactly the options I mention above as I haven't checked them all.
You can also view the cookies currently stored on your computer and search through them by the website which they belong to. So to see any cookies on your computer go in to view your cookies and then type in the name of the website which would have made them and they should show up. This is done differently in each type of browser - just type the heading of this paragraph plus your browser name. An example for Firefox again would be to type in "How to view cookies Firefox" into Google.