Today, I feel outraged.
Is it due to the fatigue after a harvest season that just ended? It's possible. It has been stressful and complicated.
I shared with you some of the problems of the campaign.
But ultimately, if I think about the various cases that I explained to you, and about other cases you don't know, I go to a simple conclusion.
We are all guilty!
Guilty of stupidity, guilty of passivity, guilty of leaving drive us by a system that exploits the weaker and the more stupid.
And the result is a huge mess.
The producer is guilty of weakness against the distributors. He is so afraid of losing a client that he accepts without protesting, sometimes coherent and often absurd spefication rules. He indulges alone, bound hand and foot, to a distribution system that compresses him up to suffocation. He becomes unable to defend a different product, despite its great qualities.
He is also guilty of rugged individualism. The distribution of consumer goods is organized since several decades, around a few powerful groups, who created a real economic power. They impose their vision of the economy to the whole society.
Producers, on the contrary, are thousands, individualistic, poorly organized, frightened by their own competition, leaving the field open to the most powerful to impose their way of seeing the world.
The distributor is guilty of organizing the system to its sole benefit. The product he sells is actually not important, nor its origin, nor its quality. He only wants the consumer to come back, and he wants to be unassailable. This is his only goal.
So he invents specifications which only have the purpose of building the consumer confidence, and especially to shift responsibility to a lower in case of problems. These specifications are not always compatible with the requirements of agriculture, nature, but the producer has no choice but to follow them exactly.
The consumer is guilty of passivity. He takes what he finds, without protest, regardless of quality, and whatever the price. Everybody grumbles about problems of quality, but few are those who react.
The consumer is also guilty of buying without questionning, to go to the easiest, and to come back, even if he was not satisfied the time before.
The consumer is guilty, as the producer, not to organize the defense of his own interests. Consumer associations are too weak, poorly organized, sometimes in competition with each other, and do not represent a power-cons.
Public administrations, as a whole, are guilty of not seeing, or not wanting to see, or to be afraid to see how overly liberal policies of the last decades, let the full power to marketing systems, to the detriment of production systems. As, in parallel, no effective protection policy is started has been established (I am not speaking of protectionism, but of protective measures), we are witnessing the destruction of so-called advanced economies. We sell more, we produce less and our societies, formerly called industrialized, gradually turn to services societies.
Control systems are invented, control systems of control systems too, we are doing circles, and the production inexorably disappears.
The production is relocated to countries with cheaper and more docile labor. There, it's possible to produce cheaper, with the same quality level, and the cost of transportation is not a limitation. Faced with a policy of open borders, local producers are destitute and are just doomed to survive as long as they can.
And our society quickly evolves towards a generalized standardization, desired and implemented by the distribution and communication system.
I see it from my point of view fruit grower. We are moving towards a uniform standardization of fruit.
Companies have no choice but to continue this headlong rush. We bin all that no longer meets the market requirements, whatever other qualities. The market only wants the beautiful.
And the good? Yes, of course, too. But provided it is beautiful.
Therefore let's produce beautiful. It is a matter of survival.
Yet agriculture is working on living beings. And plants are not all identical. Farms are being transformed into factories. Food factories, but factories without roof. We must make perfectly uniform products, without the ability to completely control the manufacturing process. Because the plant is alive, undergoes stimulation of all kinds, and reacts.
Unexpected reactions of the plant, or attacks it undergoes, are causing damage to the product.
Nevertheless, it must produce more marketable pounds of product. Because unsold pounds do not count, or rather yes. They count in negative. They demanded labor, energy, is fed from the plant, in competition with other fruits, to finish unsold, call them garbage or industry.
So forget the sugar spot sensitive varieties, forget the water drop sensitive varieties, forget the anything sensitive varieties.
We only need the first choice, and nothing but the first choice. Only beautiful! Beautiful till the boredom.
There is more place for the spotted, the rubbed on, the deformed, the pricked, the pockmarked, in short, to the ugly, even if it is a delight.
Because it will then be necessary to demonstrate that it is good, to organise tastings, to make marketing efforts, to convince, in short, spend money to sell it.
Let's mention some questionable but interesting initiatives. Surprise, they come from supermarkets! This is all the more curious that they are the cause of standardization.
Is this a reaction of guilt? Would it not rather a new market to exploit? Under the guise of something good for the planet?
The producer is sentenced to productivism (as I'll explain in a future post), a system in which the consumer is ultimately responsible, without being aware of its responsibility.
Because when the consumer, so you and I, always chose the most beautiful fruit, this is the least beautiful fruit that remains on the shelf, which dehydrates, wilts, rots, and ends in the trash.
What is the reaction of the retailer? Present only fruits that the consumer will not hesitate to buy, so beautiful.
And if the beautiful mean tasteless, it does not matter until recent years. However, a glimmer of hope appears for some time.
Look at the history of the tomato. It is typical, and everyone lived it, often without knowing the cause.
In the 90s, appears by chance in a plant breeding program, a gene in a variety, which significantly extends the life of the tomato after harvest. These tomatoes are called "long life". Unfortunately, with this gene, the taste has almost disappeared. Regardless, tomato becomes resistant to product storage, transportation, handling, with extended stays on the shelf.
So tomatoes become beautiful, all the same, keep very well, but are tasteless.
The market sees huge advantages with this gene, promotes its development, with the support of growers, with a consequent generalization of culture, a generalization of its marketing ... and a drop in consumption.
Significant efforts are being made to maintain the qualities of long life gene, while improving the taste. New varieties have begun to appear on the shelves, trying to combine both.
This scheme is the current market trend for all products.
Is it positive? In the long term, most likely. But for you and me, that is to say, for the generations that are going through this transition, it is not perfect, far from it.
The future is a standardization of fruit in their presentation, size, color, brightness, conservation, and even in their taste.
This will reduce waste, very positive point, but will we eat better so far?
For now, we are in a scheme in which sustainability is an illusion, or more accurately, a sales argument. If it was really a priority, the political authorities should impose a system to avoid this mess.
So we throw, we destroy, we remove, even sometimes, authorities pay to destroy. It's called withdrawal.
Each of these boxes contain about 300 kg of nectarines that can not be selled on the market for blemishes. Do you think it's normal that these fruits should be destroyed?
Of all the problems this year, I have had the honor and joy (?) to participate in the destruction of more than 20% of the harvest, or 1,500 tons of peaches and nectarines, 1.5 million kilos, over 10 million fruit!
It is very likely that the 2014 campaign is finally negative. I will not know it exactly before two months, when all the payments are made and disputes resolved.
You said sustainable?
Do you understand now why I feel outraged?
You know, I groan, I protest against these one way dysfunctions, which I think they are a gangrene in our society today. But I put a particular care that all the many specifications rules which adheres the company I work for, are perfectly respected. And it appears new ones each year.
Don't worry about me. I begin now to prepare the next campaign, that I will attack with the same illusion that every year. Will I finish it in a better state of mind? See you in one year.
I will probably remember only one picture of this year. That have been obliged to tear off trees with harvest yet hanging. Do you remember? This is my post No. 18, of May "bad weather -1 - ugliness."It will take me some time to get over it...