The other day I walked into my local grocery store, The White Market, and I saw the oranges pictured above. Just the day before I was in the store and there were strawberries for $2.50 a pound. Because I am on the lookout for positive values, I had to stop and marvel at the modern miracle, capitalism, these two things represent. I live in northern Vermont and we are just getting into a bit warmer weather, the temperature this weekend might be in the 60s, and yet we have this abundance of fresh fruit. Not only is there an abundance of it, but the price is low enough that virtually everyone can enjoy it.
Just think of what goes into making this possible:
- Growers in other, warmer, parts of the country. Oranges don’t grow here in Vermont. Strawberries do but not at this time of year.
- Transportation companies that are able to quickly bring the fruit from one part of the country to another. This is especially true of strawberries which do not keep well.
- Energy companies, largely fossil fuels, which make it possible for the for the goods to be grown and transported.
- Food wholesalers who work to bring food together from a variety of growers around the country and the world and make it available to supermarkets all over the country.
- The supermarket which manages to keep the shelves stocked with an enormous bounty of goods.
- and many more
All of these manage to provide me with oranges and strawberries, and much more, in April. In Vermont. When nothing much is growing. And they manage to all, hopefully, make a profit in the process. Not because some central planner is telling the grower they must grow oranges for me, or that some trucking company must bring them to my local store. They do it by all pursuing their own profit while supplying the values that customers, including me, want in a competitive market, and they accomplish it at a price that virtually everyone can afford.
So next time you are in a grocery store, give thanks to the system that makes the wealth of food you see possible: CAPITALISM
PS: And lest you think that capitalism isn’t the source of all that abundance, I’ve included a photo of a supermarket in Caracas, Venezuela. Keep in mind that Caracas is the capital of Venezuela, not a little town in the middle of no where. I’ll end with two anecdotes: The last time I was in Venezuela, for my stepdaughter’s wedding, I went to a farmer’s market and found that bananas there were more expensive than they are in my local supermarket even though I had passed banana groves on the way into the city. For the second, my wife told me recently that my step-son’s girlfriend went out at 4 in the morning in order to wait in line at a grocery store and when she arrived there were already more than 600 people waiting.