Lettuce alone

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We all complain about the declining quality of woodworking materials, but the complaint applies to other things, too. Like lettuce.

Take hardwood-veneer plywood. Please. Some has veneer so thin you can see the substrate plies right through it. Even having a piece of sandpaper in the same room with it can ruin it. You can still get good stuff, but you have to drive a bit to find it and you pay a premium. Once upon a time you could get it at any lumberyard; even home centers had decent stuff, once.

You can say the same thing about lettuce. I have two workshops; one has wood and tools in it, the other has a stove and refrigerator. I love to cook, and frequently cap a hard day in my woodshop with a rewarding evening in my cookshop. So I know lettuce as well as I do plywood.

Once upon a time you could go most of the way through a head of lettuce and still get lots of green leafy pieces before hitting that bitter yellow stuff in the center. These days, peel off a few nice green leaves and you’re left with a big yellow ball a starving gerbil wouldn’t touch.

So what’s my point? None really, I guess, other than a general rant that dissatisfaction with goods and services isn’t restricted to just one area of the marketplace. Further, in other areas the fix isn’t as easy as it is in woodworking. If you don’t like the junk plywood from your local Big Box, just drive a bit more and pay a bit more, and you get better stuff.

You can’t do that with lettuce. Sure, you can eschew the local Wal-Mart grocery section and buy lettuce from a Real Farmer, but it’s still no guarantee you won’t throw most of the head of lettuce away. No matter where it comes from, it’s still just shoved out to the marketplace.

I guess the real point is the one I was making in my recent blog about vanishing corner hardware stores. There seems to be a general idea held by some that we can do something about it – like shopping exclusively at mom-and-pop hardware stores will bring the Big Boxes to their knees. Dream on. Disappearing corner stores, like crummy plywood, are circumstances of natural marketplace evolution. It’s just the way things are now. Lousy plywood and lettuce are just two examples. So you can do one of two things: You can whine about it, or you can work around it.

I choose the latter. It takes more work, but I still turn out good stuff in both my woodshop and cookshop.

Till next time,

A.J.

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