There is a conversation I’ve had more than once about the orders I place with a company that delivers veggie boxes. I like that all their goods are organic, but of course you have to buy pre-set quantities, so in order to get any kale at all you have to have a whole big bag. And if you order a red cabbage you get a huge one. I know a bit of kale and cabbage is good for me but I don’t like them that much. The amount I'm sent is disheartening, and lasts so long that it’s far from fresh by the time I finish it. I can choose amounts and sizes at the regular supermarket, but can’t rely on being able to get an organic version. Also, being mail order, I can’t be sure what the veggies are like until they arrive. If they’re dry and fibrous or rather sour or tasteless, as sometimes happens, then I wish I hadn’t got them. At the supermarket I can see and touch and smell before I buy, so the purchase is usually not disappointing – but not that many things are organic (or local, or ethical from the point of view of man or beast).
A couple of times I’ve mused aloud on this matter, and elicited the response, “Have you tried X supermarket? I think you might find they would be cheaper than B&C” (my veggie box firm).
Cheaper?” I say. “Who said anything about cheaper? What makes you think X’s organic produce is cheaper than B&C’s? B&C aren’t especially expensive as far as I know.”
“Oh,” comes the reply. “I thought you said that was the problem.”
It intrigues me that people are so sure of what you’re likely to say, that when you speak they hear that and not what you do say. It intrigues me that people assume organic stuff is always very expensive. It further intrigues me that if I’m trying to find organic food to eat, then mail order difficulties could be solved by simply buying something cheaper. That means that in some minds the only determining criterion is price.
I am not very good on price. I try to find what I’m looking for – organic, ethical, local, tasty and fresh – and I buy that. I don’t compare prices much because what I want is so rarely available that there aren’t usually many options available for comparison. I will prioritise buying good food over buying almost anything else, because I see it as buying good health, and I have no place to be but my body while I’m here. So looking for cheap food has never been my issue. And yet, every time I have this conversation, what I’m heard to say is “Where can I get cheaper fruit and vegetables than these?”
I know this is not unusual but I still find it strange. I suspect the way forward is to talk less. I am probably saying too many words, creating a situation where the other person, buried under my random babbling as under a pile of falling leaves on an autumn day, hears that I am (still) talking, takes a random reading of the subject matter, and makes an assumption as to content without bothering to actually listen.
No prizes, lady readers, for guessing with whom these conversations take place.