Pleasure vs. Necessity

Tomato (Tamatar)

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This Freakonomics podcast on the Tale of the $15 Tomato reminded me this post of mine about how things must be pretty good because we can afford to grow our own food.

The tale was about how someone bought a hydroponics tomato growing kit that produced about 15 tomatoes. Once they figured the cost of the kit, the electricity for the light to grow the tomatoes and the time they put into to growing the tomatoes, it cost them about $15 per tomato. And these were cherry tomatoes.

We use to grow our own food out of necessity. Now we do it out of novelty.


Because it is expensive (opportunity costs) and we’re not very good at it (comparative advantage) and others are much better (specialization).

Reminds me of a time as a young guy when I tried my hand at brewing my beer. I did it. Folks liked it. It was kind of neat to see the process. But, when we were drinking it one of my friends asked, “Why brew your own beer? Beer is so cheap.” I agreed and stopped brewing.

4 thoughts on “Pleasure vs. Necessity

  1. What a coincidence. This year I tried to grow a few things (cherry tomatoes, onions, and potatoes) in a small patch of ground in my backyard just to see if I could. The tomatoes were the only ones that actually survived and thrived. I have no idea how much I ended up getting, once they were ripe I’d go outside and just pick and eat a few each day. They were pretty tasty, and the initial cost was about $3 per plant. I figure I probably came out about even, and learned something in the process.

    Don’t think I’ll do it again. You’re absolutely right about the division of labor and all. It was just a nice experiment. I feel like the basic skills of humanity, especially agriculture, are absolutely unknown to most of us, and yet, if society collapsed, would be by far the most necessary and valuable.

  2. If one was to judge from the headlines of the past few weeks, he would surmise that bicycle racing was a necessity and our national security was an optional leisure activity.

    The first thing that came to my mind when I read this headline –

    – was, “Will Obama ever fess up?” Certainly, the recent events in Benghazi as well as the attempts to mislead the US public on the nature and reasons for the attack and the mishandling of the security issues both before and during the attack have been ignored by the mainstream media when compared with the coverage afforded Mr. Armstrong.

  3. Was that a signal or a cause?

    Hi Seth –
    I’m interested in the program that enables spammers to scour the internet for terms and then spam the sites that have those terms. Also, because I’m looking into setting up a blog for my family using wordpress, I wonder if there’s a way to block these trolls. Any insight you could offer based on your experience would be appreciated.

    • Hi Mike – wordpress includes a spam filter, I believe it’s called akismet. It’s pretty darned good. It blocks a couple hundred of those types messages for everyone it lets through and when I mark it as spam, I believe it learns to catch whatever allowed the message through.


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