Last Wednesday, 16th June 2010 I drove over to “Detwilers Farm Market” (on Palmer Boulevard, Sarasota - about 4 miles from my home) to stock up on fruit and vegetables.
The Detwilers are a Mennonite family. They run this excellent source of produce.
I bought: 1 lb parsnips; 1.37 lb green peppers; 1.59 lb Georgia peaches; 0.99 lb yellow tomatoes; 2.07 lb red tomatoes; and 0.42 lbs Vidalia onions.
For all of the above I spent $9.60.
This is all excellent and first class produce. The vegetables are sufficient for at least five meals. The peaches are sweet and juicy, they “dribble down your chin” The Detwilers are an honourable family and I delight to do business with them (it’s great to know the owner’s first name!).
But there is something wrong with this picture. It is the absurdly low cost of approx 7 ½ lbs of produce.
I cannot believe that the farmers made much profit on all this produce, (except perhaps on the economies of scale).
I am sure that the (mostly immigrant) workers who plucked or picked the items were underpaid (that’s the way of life for migrant workers).
I know that a fair part of my $9.60 went for the transportation and the wholesaling of the produce.
I suspect that the Detwilers are content with a very small “mark up” since they too rely upon economies of scale, and their business employs mostly family members (who live in community as an extended family).
Therefore I have come to the conclusions that
a. I “have it made”.
b. Farmers are scarcely “making it”.
c. Migrant workers are scraping by.
d. It’s hard to compute the “carbon fuel, and social costs” of parsnips from Michigan, peaches & onions from Georgia, and tomatoes from southern Florida.
It’s not that I am opposed to capitalism. It’s simply that I wish the capitalistic system were more transparent.
Wouldn’t it be cool if the items we buy had price tags which told us the % of our cost which went to owners, workers, transporters, wholesalers, retailers etc etc.
Just a thought from your left wing pal jmp