Friday, October 8, 2010


Sometimes I wonder how everything is so inexpensive. Relative to the amount of effort or raw materials that went into it, that is.

We were in the backyard, in the trail down into the forrest harvesting wild raspberry leaves. I was being choosy, only picking the green ones not laced with bug bites, and trying to only take a few from each vine. I reflected on how we had wild, organic red raspberry leaves just here for the taking. For "free"! I smiled thinking how the cost of my pregnancy tea just halved. (Minus the cost of my time. Since it was a fun activity with kids, we'll consider it an even trade, at the very least.)

I considered the cost of of organic RRL herb: $10-20/lb. In roughly half an hour, with the "help" of two lovely and eager children, I picked roughly 8oz of fresh leaves. I know it will dry down significantly, with what? 50% loss of weight? So, one person can leisurely gather $2.50 - 5 of leaves? I know I was making my way down a forest path with children, so perhaps we could double my potential efficiency. So let's say, I could gather $10-20 worth of product an hour. Subtract the cost of processing, packaging, marketing and shipping... What would I have been paid? I'm thinking it would be somewhere around $2.50-5/hr maximum.

I think about this with items such as hand-knit sweater or hats. If I were to look at my investment in time, effort & materials, a sweater for a grown man would be worth $200-300. I suppose if I had the ability to purchase luxurious yarn in bulk, and had hours and hours to devote to knitting for profit it could be negotiated reasonably down to $50-100. Compared with prices you actually see some places, that seems insane. But, I guess those items come with hidden costs.

Priorities. If you only bought one really high-quality sweater instead of 3 low to medium quality ones, it would a no-brainer. I wish I were able to adequately express the idea of quality over quantity and the value of having less "stuff". I try to keep this in mind as we enter into the "pre" holiday season. (And as I consider going into the girls' room and helping them cull their bounty. On more than one occasion, one of them has told me that they are overwhelmed and don't know what to play with since there is so much.)

It's all just a bit.. humbling. It definitely helps to have this perspective when you see the price of real items - be it food, clothing or household goods - and the price induces temporarily arrhythmia.

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