Wednesday, May 04, 2005

The fruit(s) of my labour

Never quite looks as good as the picture, does it?

Having taken up a minor interest in home gardening, I've been maintaining a few pots of strawberry plants and romaine lettuce. After about two weeks, I have about one strawberry that is ready to pick and the romain lettuce has just sprouted, which means I'll have about a teaspoon of ceasar salad by the time the week is up. If I'm lucky, by the end of the month, I'll have enough strawberries to put over a bowl of cereal.

It's times like this that I realize that we all live a very subsidized lifestyle. Why wait two or three months for a head of romaine lettuce when you can go to the supermarket and buy it in less than fifteen minutes? Considering the time and expense that goes into each plant, it's not likely that it's going to yield the same results that industrialized farming does, when you factor in the cost. I mean, a single strawberry plant costs $0.88, but it's probably not going to yield the same number of strawberries as if you bought them at the supermarket, especially when you consider that the ones you get at the supermarket are specifically picked out for colour and size. Given the amount of fruit that tends to get wasted and discarded, that's a lot of strawberries.

Mind you, a single packet of romaine lettuce seeds costs about $1.59, whereas a head of romaine lettuce will cost you anywhere from $0.89 to $1.99, depending on where you get it.
A lot of this evokes notions of True-Cost Economics, where the final price we paid at the cash register reflects everything that goes into it -- environmental costs, transportation costs, marketing costs, manufacturing costs -- everything. I mean, where does all that money end up coming from anyway?

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