Take asparagus, for example. If oil is cheap enough, you can afford to ship asparagus from California to Maryland and sell it at a reasonable price. Standards of living go up – at least as measured by GDP. The grower in California earns money…his illegal immigrant workers earn money…the trucker earns money…the grocery store in Maryland earns money – voila, the GDP goes up.
But raise the price of oil and transcontinental asparagus may not make any sense.
We ate the most delicious asparagus in Zurich! Big, white, tender…juicy. “Where did it come from?” we asked our host.
“Why… It’s from Zurich, of course.”
He must have meant the canton. We saw no asparagus grown in downtown Zurich.
It was surely not cheap – nothing in Zurich is cheap. But it was good. Much better than the asparagus you find in the US.
We’re just guessing, but we suppose it was good because it was grown for a local market and did not have to be a variety that travels well. A trip from Sacramento to Philadelphia is tiring for anyone; if your asparagus is going to hold up…it has to be tough.
Perhaps, when prices of energy are higher, our asparagus will not be so well-traveled. Maybe, as our standards of living stagnate, our asparagus will taste better.