Friday, November 5, 2010

Something Positive

I had a meeting today and saw someone reading my blog. Interesting - put a link in the form of a signature in my emails and people actually find this site. Cutting a long story short, I said to her "it's just me whinging". And it really is. In fact, that was it's intention. I was buzzing with irritated energy and just needed an outlet.

I don't think I've offered up much in terms practical "let's fix it" type of ramblings. Instead, I've criticised the media (let's face it, it kind of deserves it), I've spoken about my quandary with politicians and politics and highlighted an opinion about specific current events. Sure there's the odd exception - when talking about Web 2.0 and why we really should make complaints (and why we shouldn't).

I've been thinking about doing a series of posts on something.

There's the 30 days of nerdism that seems to be going around at the moment. I've got to say, I'm almost tempted except that it doesn't really offer up anything in terms of uniqueness. Yes, I like to do my programming at night to the detriment of my health. I pick noodles based on the English content on the packaging (Maggi is all English thus must be bad whereas Shin Ramyun or Indomie Mi Goreng have only sort of recently become more mainstream thus now have English packaging). If I wear a foil hat, it's as a fashion accessory because you don't really need to send electrical pulses through me to control me - there's advertising and media and patterns to do that. There's nothing more to say on the subject really. I could go on about why I'm a little uncomfortable with Google's dominance on the Internet though I find myself using gmail and Google search and even, heaven forbid, Blogger - but really. Aren't we all just a little bit weary?

Even worse, it doesn't quite scratch that itch. The itch to do or say something positive. So I've decided on... Trading Posts.

What is this "Trading Posts" thing I speak of? It's a post (pole, garden stake) used as a centre for trading. Wait... I'm getting ahead of myself. Let's first talk about why we need a centre for trading.

Why do we go to the Super Market? It's cheaper right? But what's cheaper? And cheaper than what? And even better, they're now making us do more of the work without bringing down those prices. Consider this: for 6 of those self checkout machines, they only need one person attending them. That's 5 potential checkout clerks not employed. Don't use them. It's immoral in my view. This is a whole other rant about customer services that I'm going to leave for another whinny post. So once again I find myself digressing. Back on topic: The cost of things at the super market.

I've been thinking about the whole idea of "shopping the edges". This is mainly for food - your vegetables, meats, fish and dairy are all on the outside edges of the super market. So, if those are the bits that I'm really concerned with, are they cheaper and of comparable quality to other sources?

The vegetables are normally, at least a little, priced higher than a decent vege shop and lack quality or have some quality to them that has you paying more than you should (think about mushrooms - putting mushrooms in the chillers has them absorbing water which potentially doubles their weight). And meat? How about a butchers? Fish? What's wrong with Joe Fish Monger and his small fish store offering up more variety? (tuna steaks anyone?).

I went to buy powdered ginger the other day. This blew my mind. I had a look at the price at the super market. Something like 18 grams - in it's own little cute bottle granted - for around $3. That's $0.17 per gram! I then went to the bulk bin and saw what I wanted. 500 grams for $4.95 - sans cute bottle (if the cost of the ginger is the same and the differentiating point is the bottle, then the cost of the bottle, rounding the price / gram to $0.01, is $2.82).

Okay, so we have alternatives. And personally, I quite like the alternatives.

But what about... Ginger Beer, Bread, Hummus etc?

Or better yet, what's stopping me and everyone else from making this stuff themselves? Is it just a time thing?

A friend of mine said to me, what if he makes the hummus and a friend of ours were to make ginger beer and I should pick something to make as well (bread?). And then we could trade. So I could trade home made bread for home made ginger beer or home made hummus.

Is the effort involved in making a small amount of something much different from making a large amount of something? And what about costs? And if we're making this stuff at home, can we also reduce our waste?

So I've started making ginger beer. I've always wanted to and if I can't trade with one of those guys, that's kind of cool too because I want to be trading with my neighbours rather than having to get half way across Auckland to trade with a few special people who are clued in to the idea.

So then comes my contribution to the idea. What if I were to put a sign up in the front yard? "Have ginger beer, will trade. Need: Lemons". It's a "post" with a sign on it. Brilliant. A trading post. In terms of marketing does it get much better than that?

Even more interesting, it might be a great way to meet my neighbours. So it checks a lot of positive boxes: I'm getting home made stuff, I'm making home made stuff. It's an ice breaker. I'm not spending stupid amounts on these goods. I'm not buying more packaging than goods. I'm reusing what would otherwise probably end up as part of a road surface (yay for the council's recycling effort).

I guess what I'm really saying is, why not try it? Put a garden stake in your front yard with a piece of paper stating what you have and what you might like to trade some of it for.

Anyway, I did say this was going to be a series. So watch out for my ginger beer post.


  1. I have a big lemon tree with lots of lemons, and it fruits all year round.
    You can have some if you want.
    I would like to try your ginger beer.

  2. I was just thinking about blogging about that. I've tried the first batch (the second needs to be bottled today) but it doesn't have any fizz :/ The plant isn't fermenting either so I need to try something a little different.