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thought for food
thought for food
...a blog this morning tilted my thoughts towards food, and how we perceive it. Occassionally, thoughts of food and it's process involve more than tanning with the fridge door open. If you're in the food industry, it is downright dreadful. The holy image of breaking bread with loved ones...is great. But how many battles, cut throats, dirty double deals happened before anyone says grace?
.....I'm on the produce side of it. We make slotting fees look like sales tax. I supply to foodservice, which in turn supplies restaurant, and institutional. Ho-hum.......First off, the produce industry (read biznezz...) has been in the hands of the Italians forever, at least on the local distribtion level.. In the late 1800's, the midwest was actually divided up by families. And in those towns, or cities now, you will see plenty of THAT name in produce, on the terminal market. And yes, these guyz waz connected. Not so much anymore... I hear rumblings about Kansas City. As a kid, things were hot here. "Keep your eys open and your mouth shut!" ...car bombings in the seventies, somebody you used to see, you don't see anymore...jokes about "having your old lady start the car"... The last bastion of the mob in produce, was bananas. If you wanted to keep your knee caps, you DID NOT sell bananas. I always wondered....was it actually the bananas?...or the shipping route...(Honduras, Central America...dirty business everywhere back then)
.....It was a cash business, and this greatly interested da boyz.. It still is somewhat, and that allows for plenty of wiggle room. I know of a house that has two ticket books. The logo on one has a color infill. If you pay in cash, you get the black and white, numbered ticket. The cash goes in (the pocket), the ticket goes out(wit da fishes), and this becomes "Joe's" money, as opposed to the daily receipts, ...and profit and loss. This is so ingrained, that if "Joe's" money is needed to pay a bill, it would lead to an arguement.... Cause that's "JOE"S" money.
.....Produce comes into town in trucks. It leaves the market the same way. If you sell produce, when you "eat" something, it means that you were not able to sell it when it was fresh, or you were not able to hide it in the middle of an order when it was becoming less fresh, or you weren't able to sell it to the daily vendors for a loss. You put it in the dumpster, and another...you guessed it...truck comes and gets it. This also means that you weren't able to bribe the inspector, (cause he got caught finally, after fifteen years) into telling the shipper that it was bad to begin with. Literally millions of dollars have been reaped... here in St. Louis in this manner. There is an investigation, that has been going on for over five years, four convictions, a couple more indictments, and fines that total almost.....a thousand dollars. A WHOLE thousand bucks!!! This from a joint effort between the D.O.D., the F.B.I., the U.S.P.S., the P.A.C.A. (agriculture), and another I can't recall right now. I got to see a lot of this...went to court, watched the Inspector General retire...nothing. The biggest house, the biggest offender, was never charged. This house, when the inspector was on vacation, literally told their buyers..."we're on our own this week"...however, they did manage to donate heavily politically, ... think Ashcroft. so, there IS Justice, ....kinda...I mean...it's a product...
.....Guys who sling produce, think of it as a commodity that rots. It's movin', or it's not. That's all. There is a food mission that will use this food, but you don't see the big boys utilizing them. They would rather "stovepipe", the art of stacking a pallet so the middle is all old product. You will try returning "old product" when you notice it. "No way" they say. "We just sold you that?, what....you tryin' to clean your cooler out on me????? giddowda heeeeere."
.....Another lil money maker is relabelling....you buy a case of fancy apples...it is marked FCY on the side. Now you go upstairs and get that "X" stamp....viola....X FCY apples, price just jumped three bucks a box. and there are 1080 boxes on a truckload. And you do this to your chain store buyer, who is buying half and whole truckloads at a time from you. Or you get a stamp that says "Indian River Grapefruit", and you use it at will. Then there are "homegrown" tomatoes, which in theory are vine ripened, and yet they arrive green, and are gassed to color.
.....Produce is priced by supply and demand. When peaches are runnin' heavy, they give them away. They're ripening so fast, it's all they can do to pack 'em, ship 'em, and let somebody have them "open billing"..."price after sale"..in other words...."hey...come FUCK me..." After all, it's the grower who will bear the brunt of short sales, and short sales are better than no sales, eh????? of course the packer/shipper, broker, and jobber all cut a piece of the pie first...
.....By this definition, produce is at it's best, when it is cheaper. The higher the price, the less the quality. You are either at the beginning or end of a pick, or the weather has mucked things up...when Arizona flooded in the early spring, lettuce was forty bucks a case, up from five or six, and the leaves were worm eaten, the cases weighted down with mud.
.....and one thing the market does well, the terminal market, is know when it's short. Broccoli will climb by the hour....
...don't do it.....
..."FORTY!!!...now....you buyin!?!...or just wastin' my time?"
.....so, before you settle in with the folks, and say grace over the wonderful spread God has provided....back up...
...heed those suggestions, to WASH all fruits and vegetables before eating. It's not just the pesticides, and chemicals added for color...it's the blood, sweat and tears of many a man, clinging to the fruit of the vine.
6/2/2005 2:41 pm
DANG... lust... a bit of history going on here. |
I always knew it was a racket of some sorts. When I lived in South Carolina there were hundreds of tomatoe farmers there.... but, could you buy a South Carolina tomatoe for cheap??? Nope, not even!!! They were selling them to other states and jacking up the prices. By the time, a tomatoe made it back to South Carolina, it was so expensive it was just unreal. And being next to Georgia, you would think you would get peaches cheap there.... Nope...
Thank goodness for the Valley in Texas where we can get Ruby Reds, Cabbages, Sweet Corn and more on good deals..... and find Fredericksburg and Stonewall peaches in June -- speaking of which, it sounds like a time for a road trip!!! lol....
Have to have some of those wonderful peaches....
peach cobbler time with homemade fresh vanilla ice cream... now that is something to have a hankering for!!! lol....
I do thank God each and every time I am fortunate to have the fresh fruit and veggies.....
6/5/2005 8:21 am
Doesn't matter if it's produce, fish, cars or software... they all are commodities and are treated as such. Consumer beware, no matter what you're buying.|