Are those bananas you got from Woolworths a little pricey? Are those apples you bought from Coles a little bland? Are you concerned that the Big Two may not be properly remunerating the farmers they source their produce from? If so, it’s time you embraced the pick your own (PYO) movement.
PYO is about providing a direct connection between the buyer and seller. What that means is that instead of going to the supermarket to take fruit off the shelf, you drive to an orchard and pluck it straight from the tree. Cutting out the middleman (or, to be more accurate, numerous middlemen) provides advantages for both parties. The buyer gets a cheaper and tastier product, while the seller earns a larger profit.
There is evidence to suggest that the dominance of Woolies and Coles is not in the interests of either buyers or sellers. Together, they control 70 per cent of the grocery market, which last year caused the Retail Traders’ Association to bemoan that Australia had “experienced higher food price increases than the entire Western world”. Yet if Four Corners is correct, at the same time that consumers have been paying more for their fruit and vegetables, the amount suppliers have been receiving has declined.
By eliminating the middleman, PYO turns this equation on its head. Farmers are able to sell at a higher price, because we are able to buy at a lower price. At the same time, we get access to fresher produce. Another advantage is that we have the opportunity to buy more ‘authentic’ food. For the sake of presentation, supermarkets will only accept homogenous fruit and vegetables, even though produce that has an unusual shape or size or colour is often no less tasty.
In this way, PYO is an educational experience. It is especially beneficial for children, who can see where their food comes from and discover how it ends up on their table. Parents will also be pleased to learn that many young’uns like nothing better than being let loose in a field and told to pick, pluck and pull to their little hearts’ content.
For a list of PYO farms around Melbourne and Victoria click here.