Tutukaka market

The Saturday market outside the only store in Tutukaka caused me to question my assumptions about the ‘authenticity’ of the whole farmers market thing. Specifically, in my mind, the actual farmer is supposed get up early, harvest only the things at the peak of ripeness, wash and bundle it all, load the produce into crates and boxes and drive into town to stand humbly before me hoping for a few dollars. But that model only makes sense for farms at a very particular scale… if “the farmer” is actually a person or a family. But if in fact the work is done by a dorm full of migrant laborers, overseen by professional supervisors, and the landowner is a body corporate of some sort, who’s the farmer anyway?

At farmers markets we’ve been to, I’m pretty sure some of the stands actually operate like I romantically expect them to. In Parnell, it’s the honey lady, some of the fruit stands, the sausage seller. But others are probably retailers who’ve never set foot on the farm in question. Hmmm.

In Tutukaka, a single van full of Indian guys pulls up and unloads crates of every fruit and vegetable you can reasonably imagine. There’s no way it all came from a single field or greenhouse! Predatory shoppers, most of whom are holidaymakers (like me) who would not be uncomfortable at a Junior League meeting in Amherst or Millbrae, wait with carefully disguised eagerness. Money changes hands, and nutritious fresh meals are prepared for all the above-average children.

In fairness, the plastic crates were stamped with something about a growers cooperative… so maybe the whole farmers market concept as I imagine it is actually operating in the background… but it’s a distribution system, only cutting out the actual physical store, rather than a 1:1 connection between a farmer and a market stall.

And in even more fairness , nobody said it was an actual farmers market… maybe it’s actually just a fresh produce market in a town that would otherwise be too small for fresh seasonal veggies… In which case, awesome!!! And we got exactly the fresh herbs we wanted… so the system works!

Get a job

I saw this tableau on my way home last night… nobody around it.

I believe it is now widely accepted that telling a homeless person to “get a job” is unhelpful and inappropriate.

Is it more or less hateful to throw down a textbook on multivariate data analysis?

Death and Taxes

death and taxes

Another awesome thing about NZ… annual taxes. My taxes are automatically taken out of my paycheck. My savings account, which by the way earns about 3.5%, also automatically deducts taxes.

Then, without any intervention from me, the government reconciles everything at the end of the year and either sends a bill or a credit. No tax return, no adding extra deductions to account for multiple wage earners, no TurboTax.

Now, all I have to do is figure out how to spend my huge windfall!

Into every life a little rain must fall*

Suddenly, it started to rain! Hard!

Even the rickshaw guys took refuge.

Within minutes, the poncho vendors appeared. And it works, the micro-economy works efficiently. Yay!

But we are seasoned travelers because we had already bought ponchos in a Bali downpour– and left them behind. So we knew how to ride out the storm…

* the post title is actually a quote from Longfellow, but to me it’s the slogan of a mortuary in LA that advertised on bus benches when I was in high school.

Good consumers

Besides the olde towne attractions, Hoi An is about buying stuff. So we did.

That attractive jacket, cotton and linen with a mandarin collar I’m going to regret, was $65, ready in the three days instead of two because they had to fix that vent that poked out funny.

Lee got a new pair of glasses for about half what she would have paid in NZ. We each got a pair of bespoke shoes. I nearly left mine on the boat today, but all’s well that ends well.

One of the themes of the failed Trump-Kim summit in Da Nang was the idea that North Korea could be just like Vietnam if they’d only embrace a more Western economy. I have no idea how people live in North Korea, but in the heavily touristy parts of Vietnam I’ve seen I can say that people are highly motivated by money and work really hard to get more of it.

It’s not always pleasant. Are their lives better? Are their leaders better off?

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