The price of everything…

The saying goes that there are many people who know the price of everything but the value of nothing. At a time when prices are rising and everyone foresees trouble ahead, this seems true of so many of us.

Salmon prices are at an all-time high, along with so many other costs rising. I will not venture to estimate whether we are facing a bout of true inflation or whether we are undergoing a price shock linked to fuel cost. Whichever the case for the short term, prices are going to rise and if people don’t start to understand the value of what we have, the situation will only get worse.

In truth we are a very well supplied society in almost every way. We have too much of everything and because of this we have become complacent. In my youth almost everyone could cook, not because they wanted to or because it was the thing to do, but because it was the cheapest way to feed ourselves.

I spent a good part of today with someone who I have known for a very long time, who is a much better man than me. On top of all of the other roles he does, he also worked in a food bank. He was talking about the desperate times some people are having. Stretched to pay the rent, they don’t know how to cook and thus are forced into buying more expensive meal options. It is not that these people are complacent; our society has forgotten that we need to teach children life skills before we teach them anything else. Another value that we have lost sight of.

Government doesn’t get it

The hard part for the food producer is that we have been forgotten. We joke about people not knowing where milk comes from but actually the public don’t know where any of their food comes from. Seasonality is little understood, let alone the complexities of delivering food to ensure a constantly well fed population.

Government is mostly out of touch with food production. They don’t understand how delicate the balance is and believe that the global market will cover any inadequacies in our own production if they make a mess of regulating it. The Ukraine war has exposed how fragile the world’s supply of food is. Add to it the addict-like dependency that food production has on fuel and the situation begins to look a bit scary.

So how is this going to play out? The question of government stepping in to try to alleviate the cost of living rises is on everyone’s lips but is there really anything significant government can do? Apparently we are all going to get a gift from government, which means that the taxes we pay will be given back to us. I suppose it will help somewhat but it does nothing to deal with the underlying problem.

Having just driven the length of the country, I have been utterly amazed at the volume of traffic. It has been the some of the worst I have ever seen. How can this be when fuel prices are astronomically high? I had assumed naively that car sharing and all sorts of money-saving schemes would be coming to fruition to help people reduce their fuel use.

I realise that train strikes have meant that people distrust public transport but surely these prices are too high to be sustained. Evidence suggests, however, that it takes an enormous shock to get us to change our habits. Apparently the fuel price shock isn’t big enough.

I had hoped that these prices would drive significant change, but I was wrong. So I suppose that the high price of food will not lessen the appalling wastage of food that has become a permanent fixture of our country’s economy.

In the end, I guess that if you don’t value what you have, then throwing it away does not seem to be important. Our comfort and ease of life is dependent on the hard work of those who supply all of our needs. Whilst government preoccupies itself with the price of everything, it might do better to concentrate on ensuring that the people who deliver the goods are still in a position to do so. If they don’t, I fear that high prices will be the least of the issues we face.


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