Thursday, October 14, 2010

Choice, waste, and customer service.

With all the new shopping centres springing up in town we shall certainly not be short on choices. In fact one wonders if with so many places to shop we just might be short of shoppers! When one considers 50% of us are male and if like me shopping is strictly a walk in, buy it, and go home again affair, with window shopping considered the occupation of teenage girls and folks with too much time on their hands, I truly wonder if they will all survive when we get back to normal population levels in November. As that’s when we start recognising people on the street and for the next six months needs rather than wants affect the shopping priorities of most folks, with the exception of Christmas.
Along with choices there is always waste. You can only sell what you have in stock, so shelves are stocked with everything the heart desires. The most obvious place to see this is the produce and meat section of any large grocery store. Piles of produce, enticing the customer, all fresh and prime. I do not know the percentages but one only has to go behind the store to see the large volume of over ripe produce, or just unsold, along with meats and baked goods gone past their due dates. A good store manager lives and dies by the management and control of those waste numbers. Of course its not all dumped, some ends up in soup kitchens and the like, and I know more than a few pigs in their time have enjoyed baked goods for breakfast.
It seems choice and wastes are linked, we can not have one with out the other. The key is to use the wastes in other ways so they are not waste. The other place in town where I ran into this was at the Farmers Market. It seems the market managers feel there should be no more choices, (read produce vendors) until the present produce vendors sell out. This would mean no more produce grown by different vendors who grow different varieties and hit the market at different times giving you the consumer more choice. The existing produce vendors must sell out and go home empty before any new ones are allowed entry into the market. ! The only produce I have seen sell out in a store is in Soviet Russia where a lack of produce was the issue not the abundance we have in this valley. This means that you the customer would have to buy things you did not want to ensure vendors sell out so that other vendors are allowed entry and only then can you have more choices. The only produce vendor you ever see sell out is “The Peach Lady” but hey, that is the crack cocaine of the produce world. The trouble is in a free market capitalist society where choice and sales are every thing, the market management are denying choice to the customers and sales to the vendors. In the long run this stagnates the market and does a disservice to the community it is supposed to be serving. It appears a few want market control much like Monsanto and Cargill before they are willing to share, if at all. Perhaps they have not figured out what to do with the waste and end up just dumping it. As for us, any thing that comes home from the market it is either preserved and stored for our own winter consumption or fed to our pigs who become the middle men in the process. I always preferred bacon over veggies!
Rob Fensom farms in the city at Harmonious Homestead and ewe

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