Social Action

The high cost of tomatoes

1. The Unsavory Story Of Industrially-Grown Tomatoes - Clip from Science Friday, August 26th 2011     

Source: Science Friday – August 26th 2011

I love tomatoes. They are a seasonal treat I grow in my garden. At the peak of the growing season we were getting 50+ per week from our garden.

Key word: Seasonal.

Americans have no concept of seasonal food. We want what we want 12 months per year in complete denial of natural growth cycles. In other words, if you want a tomato on your salad to start your annual New Years diet, you just go to the grocery store and get it.

Here’s the thing: Tomatoes don’t grow naturally that time of year. There are places in the world where tomatoes grow well during a season. But in the middle of the winter your typical beaf steak tomato doesn’t grow anywhere in North America. At least not naturally.

So why can I buy them year-round? 

Supply and demand has a dark side. As the audio from the August 26th version of Science Friday documents, those low taste, high cost winter tomatoes you buy at the supermarket come at a very high cost.

  • About 120 chemicals are needed to make those tomatoes grow in Florida.
  • 8x’s the pesticides are needed for Florida winter tomatoes that aren’t needed for ones grown in California.
  • Many are hand picked and cultivated by modern-day slaves…. in Florida. (More than 1200 cases of such have been documented in recent years.)
  • They are picked when they are completely unripe and bright green. Then they are gased to turn them bright red, even though they aren’t ripe.
  • The reason your store bought tomatoes have no flavor is that they aren’t raised in soil, they are raised in sand. (No natural nutrients, sorry)

What’s the point?

If you knew that you were buying something produced by modern-day slavery in your own country, would you still buy it if it were a good deal?

My advice?¬†Next time you sit down to eat something or make a meal ask yourself… where did this food come from? What were the farmers who produced it paid? And was this food made under conditions that honor God?

You might not want to know. But the reality is that there is an entire industry out there who doesn’t want you to think about where your food comes from, they just want to get rich off of your ignorance.


The Resurrection of the Cottage Industry

Photo by James Whitesmith via Flickr (Creative Commons)

Is this the best time ever to start a small business? It sure seems like it!

  • Countless brilliant minds, long cooped up in boring corporate jobs, are on unemployment and unable to find new corporate jobs.
  • The internet has made the world pretty flat. You have a good product? You can move it online for about the same per unit price as the big guys.
  • Culture has a distaste for big business. Enron, big banks, BP, Monsanto, Wal*Mart– we’re all questioning if we can trust giant. But we know we can trust local.
  • The genie has left the bottle. With all of that knowledge leaving big business… these folks know how to run a business, are well networked, and know all the tricks of their trade.
  • It’s never been cheaper. Seriously, in a bunch of states you can legally start a business for less than $100. Using existing free tools like Craigslist, Etsy, or Ebay you can advertise a product for free. (Or darn close to it.)
  • People are more willing to buy thoughts, ideas, designs, and concepts than ever before! Consultant isn’t just a fancy word for unemployed anymore.

If you are thinking about it, let me encourage you on two quick things.

  1. There is no time like the present. I started my first company in 2005 and sold it in 2008. It wasn’t scary. It was fun!
  2. While I don’t agree with all the MBAs out there that you need a business plan to start a small business, I do think you need to do the 30 minutes of work in setting everything up legally. Get a Tax ID, get a business bank account, get a business license if its require, form the right tax entity to protect yourself. None of that is hard and you don’t need a lawyer to do any of that.

Here’s a bi-product I love. All of those small businesses need a website. Which supports my cottage industry.

Church Leadership

Coulda, Woulda, Shoulda, But

I’m always amazed how little leading most leaders actually do.

If a leader takes someone where they would otherwise not go on their own— the fact is that most people we label as leaders are just people who talk about leading. On a good day they are administrators. On an average day, they are do-nothings with leadership titles. On a bad day, they are busy saying they are leading while they aren’t actually leading.

Nobody cares how you intend to lead.

When you are a leader you are measured by your results, not your intentions.

Go through your own list of your favorite leaders. They all have great actions tied to their words we quote.

Leaders have a responsibility to lead. They need to say the words that move people. They need to prepare people to go somewhere or do something they are afraid of.

Then they need to take their people there.

Call yourself a leader?

No more excuses. No more coulda done this. Or second-guessing woulda done that. We’ve all failed, but dwelling on the shoulda just makes you sound like a loser.

No more talk. Time for action.