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The Spudsville Paradox

All for the Public Good

By The Bantering WelshmanPublished 12 months ago Updated 12 months ago 5 min read
The Spudsville Paradox
Photo by Lars Blankers on Unsplash

It’s a beautiful day in Pomme County where two Spudsville men are walking through the farmers market looking for produce.

“Yeah! It’s not like he sets the price of gas or anything,” Trevor says in response to a comment from Ken.

“Hey!” Trevor continues “I need to get some potatoes so Beverly can make potato salad for the 4th of July party.”

“Well, good thing you are in potato country,” Ken says amusingly.

“Hey, look!” Trevor points with excitement. “Emm Farms has Aye Farms potatoes for 50 cents a pound.”

“Oh yay!” falsely exclaims Ken.

“I need 10 pounds of those potatoes,” says Trevor to the attendant pulling a five spot from his wallet.

“Certainly... That will be 22.50,” says the attendant standing behind a table mounded with tubers.

“Wait... What?” Trevor says with confusion pulling back his hand containing the five-dollar bill.

“It’s 22 dollars and 50 cents,” repeats the attendant.

“But the sign reads 50 cents a pound,” Trevor says pointing to a small cardboard sign.

“That’s just the market price for Aye Farms potatoes,” says the attendant.

“Can I just get 10 pounds of those?” asks Trevor.

“Oh, well, we get potatoes from many different farms,” says the attendant with a chuckle. “Aye farms is our biggest supplier at 40 percent of our stock, but it all gets pooled together here.”

“Well that just sounds silly,” Ken interjects. “Why is it so high?”

“Well, it’s supply and demand don’t you know,” recites the attendant. “We produce sellers don’t set the price… greedy farmers and distributors most likely. Then there is that land dispute between Yu Farms and Aar Farms. Litigation has removed their potatoes all together, increasing demand.”

“Did you really get that much from Yu or Aar?” asks Trevor.

“About five percent,” answers the attendant.

“How does that drive your prices up?” Ken says more as a statement than a question.

“Well, we are trying to reduce the public’s dependency on potatoes too — so, you eat healthier green vegetables like lettuce, broccoli and Brussels sprouts.”

“But those have so little energy content,” cries Trevor. “People need substance to survive.”

“Oh, but they are jam-packed with vitamins and minerals, and high in fiber” the attendant snaps back. “And aren’t we all a little excessively rotund these days?" He sneers at Trevor's saggy middle. "I mean, you could stand to lose a little weight. Maybe a few less calories and carbs per day will do you good.”

“Well, that really isn’t your place to say now, is it?” Ken asks, angry for his friend.

The attendant merely shrugs in response.

“No! It isn’t!” Trevor answers Ken’s question. “Regardless, Aye Farms supplies enough potatoes for the whole Tri-State area, why don’t you just sell only Aye Farms Potatoes then and reduce the price? They can certainly meet demand.”

“Well, yes!” the attendant agrees, “but there simply isn’t enough distribution infrastructure to get the potatoes to our market.”

“What about Apple of the Earth Transport?” asks Ken. “I thought they had the contract to move potatoes in this area.”

“Oh, well the coalition canceled that contract, opting for organic transport instead. We did away with 60 percent of our transport capacity in that move,” the attendant answers.

“But why!” Trevor shouts abruptly.

“As I’ve already mentioned,” responds the attendant annoyingly. “We are trying to reduce the dependency on potatoes.”

“This makes no sense!” Trevor is still shouting. “But you are Emm Farms right? Don't you grow more potatoes than all the other farms combined?”

“Absolutely!” the attendant responds matter-of-factly. “Of course, we do!”

“Then why don’t you sell your own potatoes? Saturate the market? Bring down the cost?” Trevor asks.

“Well, we don’t dig them up!” the attendant answers with an annoyed chuckle as if he is stating the obvious.

“What?” Ken’s face contorts in confusion. “Why not?”

“It is a valuable commodity... in short supply,” the attendant fires back. “We intend to expend everyone else’s stock before we dare distribute ours. Furthermore, we aren’t going to promote potato consumption by hiring workers, procuring machinery, maintaining facilities and buying trucks just to get our potatoes to an unhealthy, ignorant consumer."

“Whaa... But... Whaa,” Ken’s brain appears to explode, and he stares ahead motionless, mouth agape.

“Ok! Let me ask you this,” Trevor says appearing to just think of something. “So, if you are trying to reduce the public’s dependency on potatoes, why just sit on a nearly endless supply now? If you are actively moving to eliminate potatoes out of the public’s daily meal choices, doesn’t it seem appropriate to expend your supply now and thereby reduce the strain of transition,” – he air-quotes, “on the public?”

“Well,” the attendant pauses before answering. “We aren’t actually going to reduce the dependency,” he says. “People need potatoes to survive, but we are doing our part to bring attention to the need and when all other sources of potatoes are expended, we’ll still have ours.”

“So, you are a hypocrite!” Trevor cries.

With impatient disgust the attendant answers. “Look! Do you want these fattening, unhealthy potatoes or not?” he asks. “If you want them, the price is the price; or...” he interrupts himself, “I have some lovely broccoli florets over here. They are only three dollars a pound.”

“THREE DOLLARS A POUND!” Trevor screams. “Why so much?”

“Well, there is a price for healthier options young man,” the attendant answers. “I mean, they are much harder to produce and distribute. They need refrigeration. They take longer to grow and reseed...”

“And that is an economical substitute for potatoes,” interrupts Trevor with Ken standing next to him, drool slowly descending from his opened mouth.

The attendant merely shrugs.


About the Creator

The Bantering Welshman

M.S. Humphreys is The Bantering Welshman, an East Tennessee native, author, journalist, storyteller, marketing specialist, husband and step father. and

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