This summer we grew, among other things, courgettes. The dozen or so plants each produced six or more healthy, shiny examples. Although we ate as many as we could, many more were given away to friends and neighbours, and a few finally rotted away on the spent plants. (Shame, I know, but when even the chickens are sick of them, it’s time to throw in the towel.)
A financially successful venture, then? Not really.
The plants themselves were cheap enough at 10 centimos each, but then you need to add the cost of petrol for the rotavator, of the electricity used to pump water twice daily from the well to the huerto, and an hour a day of labour during five or six weeks to prepare the ground, sow, weed, water and harvest the crop, and finally clear the patch again. From a purely financial point of view, buying from the local market seems quite a bargain.
So will I grow some next year? Definitely, and here’s why:
As I see it, when somebody grows a courgette, the world is better off – by precisely one courgette – than it was before. The courgette one would otherwise buy from the shop or market stall needs to provide a living for the farmer who grew it; that’s his reward, and very well deserved, for swelling the global coffers to the tune of one courgette. That sounds fair. I feel sure the courgette doesn’t mind.
It also needs to pay the packaging and delivery workers who take it to the distribution depot. Well, OK, the courgette can live with that, too, at a pinch. Then there’s the distributor. Oh, and the shopkeeper who finally sells it to me. Wait, really? That’s down to that same courgette? ‘Fraid so, my little green buddy. None of those others grew any courgettes of their own, you see – it’s just you. But don’t worry – we have conjurors who use economystic illusions to make sure it all works.
These wizards can mutter a few arcane incantations, and suddenly there’s enough profit for everyone – the marketers and accountants, artists and entertainers, the agents, pundits, financial advisers and all the rest. Those who make money without creating wealth. Remember, whatever you do don’t ask the wizard who’s going to pay for it all – a member of the circle must never reveal how a trick’s performed. Regrettably for them, it seems that quite a few people are starting to figure it out.
One day soon, that greengrocer will go and buy himself a new car – that’s how powerful the illusion is. Unfortunately, the factory that builds it can’t do so just with legerdemain – building a car takes glass and steel, rubber, plastic and paint. It takes courgettes.
So yes, I’ll do it again next year. Not because it’s cheaper, fresher, tastes better, and is guaranteed chemical-free. I’ll do it because I don’t want this crisis to be my fault.
I don’t want to be that guy who owns a car but grows no courgettes.