Reason magazine's Katherine Mangu-Ward points to the tree-killing publication "The Atlantic" regarding writer Michael Pollan's utter shock that Wal-Mart might have good quality produce rivaling that of Whole Foods.
Now... Wal-Mart's produce section was well known to me when I was in college and actually lived within a few miles of a Wal-Mart. Alas, I live blocks away from a Whole Foods (and an even shorter distance from another, even better gourmet grocery store called Bristol Farms) and the nearest Wal-Mart is at least 20 miles away. Being in Los Angeles, I've got no shortage of acceptable grocery options, but Wal-Mart's fantastic supply chain has alway made them the cheapest.
I don't really care about the dismay and mental anguish Mr. Pollan experienced finding out his preconceptions about Wal-Mart were largely baseless and stupid, as I suspect that were he to break away from the never-ending cliché that is the existence of most of the media, he would find that many of his notions are childishly naive and often based on prejudice.
Speaking of which... The the whole reason I'm blogging it at all is because of this...
Personally, I found that exchange to be hilarious...
But it is depressing how many people don't seem to get that it is division of labor that does almost everything great for humanity. It is because I don't have to buy my produce directly from the guy who grew it that I can enjoy Asian (aka: Korean/Japanese/Apple) Pears, Cilantro, and the assortment of deliciously spicy chili peppers that are in my fridge and I didn't have to pay but a few dollars for all of the above-mentioned list of foods.
I wonder if the people who say idiotic things like that have the slightest clue of the consequences. I have metal bed frame - should I have purchased that from a blacksmith instead of Overstock.com?
I hope not... Since I don't know any blacksmiths, for one thing, but more importantly because the price would have easily exceeded my ability to pay and then my limited resources would be sucked up on one purchase instead of many, as Wal-Mart offers. We all have limited resources, so the inefficiency that Pollan is naively suggesting is a good thing would be a death-nail for prosperity across the board. Human capital is about time, effort & skills... And I don't have the skills to be a farmer, the interest in becoming a metal worker or the time to produce every single thing I use each day.
This idea that we should all happily return to some mythically serene agrarian lifestyle is not only insane, but it's bafflingly stupid to boot.
There is nothing good about working 20 hours a day doing back-breaking labor, all year - winter snow, summer heat be damned - all just to barely survive. Technology & division of labor is what makes life in the 21st Century so awesome. I can spend my days doing things like writing music because someone else, who enjoys farming produces more than enough food and the comparative advantage of having it shipped to me through several intermediary 3rd parties is so great, that I can afford to live the life I want and not starve.
This is amazing.
Don't let any sanctimonious jerk tell you otherwise.