Monday, December 20, 2004

Bad economics = bad tomatoes

I am somewhat hesitant to cross-post this, but it is such a great example of why I do not like government intervention that I think I will post it here as well.

A bit of background is necessary. My family owns 4 small grocery stores in Western New York State. As a means of helping out, I also publish a blog for the stores. This is a story from there:

I saw this on ABC News yesterday. What an outrage!! The short version:Joe Procacci is a Florida farmer/saleperson. He has "developed" a tomato that looks and tastes much like many heirloom tomatoes that home gardeners grow. He calls his tomato the UglyRipe. (from

The problem? The Florida Tomato Committee says the tomatoes can not be sold out of state because they look ugly and...the ugly tomatoes would hurt the reputation of other Florida Tomato growers:

"Growers complain that Procacci's UglyRipes could wreck the reputation of Florida tomatoes. To allow misshapen and blemished tomatoes could open the way for a flood of ugly tomatoes to hit the market, says Reggie Brown, the tomato committee's manager." Yahoo News

Uh, folks, let's apply some economics here. If there is demand for the ugly tomatoes becuase of their taste, my guess is that people would eat them! And just for the record, it's taste, not looks, that matters when it comes to tomatoes!

More than likely the real reason for the The Florida Tomato Commission's crackdown is that allowing the UgliRipes to sell would...put other farmers at a competitive disadvantage.

The loser in this? The non Florida consumer who can not buy what they want (better tasting tomatoes).

The firm has established a site to protest the rules .

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