Sunday, August 29, 2010

The Price of Tea in China

Well, make that The Price of Fresh Veg in Korea. I snapped this shot a few days ago at E-Mart, and things have only gotten worse:

That's right, 22,800 W (about USD 19) for a single, solitary mango. Albeit cellophane-wrapped and neatly labeled in English as well as hangeul. Peaches, which were already high at about a buck a pop three weeks ago, have practically tripled in price, and watermelons, some kind of giant green delicacy here, have done the same!

Yesterday's Dong-A Ilbo gives many more examples and then tries to explain the situation:
Park Yeong-gu, a researcher at Korea Rural Economic Institute, said, “Prices of agricultural products have soared due to a bad harvest stemming from abnormally low temperatures in spring and high temperatures and drought in summer.”
“If high temperatures continue next month, the prices of agricultural products will also likely continue to rise for the time being.”

The dude's right about the weather. Jangma (the East Asian monsoon) was practically non-existent this year, though it has rained frequently the last few weeks. It has been unbearably hot this summer, and we had practically no springtime, as winter overstayed its welcome--Koreans say ggot sem chui, meaning 'winter is jealous'. Disruptions to the seasonal cycle can certainly wreak havoc on other natural things. I'm just grateful there's no such thing as global warming.


Chris said...

I finally had some peaches that began to approach Georgia's. I bought the softest ones I could find, then let them ripen on my counter for 1 week. They were good, not great. Not as sweet as I remember. Next time, I think I'll drown them in ice cream...

조안나 said...

wow, why even bother selling it... who is going to pay 22,000 for 1 mango?? And I thought 18,000 won for a watermelon was ridiculous. At least you can eat a watermelon for a few days...

You know, I was amazed the other day because I walked by a fruit vendor and she had huge bowls of fruit for super cheap. I got at least 10 kiwis for 3,000 won and I got about 15 plums for 5,000. They also had cheap peaches too, but I didn't want to buy more than I could eat!

Strange how some fruit are so ridiculously overpriced, while others are so ridiculously cheap!

Chris said...

I'm going on a very short vacation, but would like a watermelon when I return on Saturday. Can I reserve one in advance? Maybe we should open a vegetable futures market...

John from Daejeon said...

I don’t understand your collation between the high price of mangos and the weather. Where in South Korea are mangos grown for the prices to be so high?

It was a definitely a brutal winter as I couldn't get into the garden until nearly June, but in the end this summer provided me with my largest bounty in four years of succulent green beans, mouthwatering sweet corn, and rear-end cringing habenero peppers.

My 80+ year-old uncle says that he can count on one hand the amount of years that mother nature/the gods have given him a perfect growing season, and he was farming well before global cooling (1970's) and global warming became such issues.

Anyway, it won't be long before Disney takes over our food supply with their tomato trees that produce 32,000 tomatoes on a single plant and one of those nine pound lemons can make a lot of lemonade.

Tuttle said...

Chris: ice cream makes everything better. Chocolate, too.
Jo-Anna: I sure won't--we had a few mango trees on the property in Thailand, so I usually think of them as free. 20 bucks? No way!
Chris: No reservations being taken.
JFD: to be crystal, *I* didn't make any such claims, I was quoting the dude from the Rural Economic Institute.
Your uncle is of course correct--ideal growing seasons are few. And getting fewer.
Curious you should mention the cooling/warming issue, as many people think they are mutually exclusive, and certainly the data seems to be eschewing the cooling model--but, without going too much into physics, I will point out that evaporation (a noted effect of warming) is a *cooling* process. The model concerns a few narrow circulation zones around the Arctic where *if* the seasonal thaw failed, ice caps would continue to grow, with catastrophic consequences.
We now know that model, from as you said the 70s, was lacking in numerous ways. Is the current model lacking? Of course. Is global warming a fact? Of course.
Cool video, and I suggest all readers watch it--that pumpkin is enormous, and the "tomato tree" is God's/Disney's gift to fans of the love apple. I wish I had seen this tour last time I was at WDW!

Anonymous said...

Periodic Global Warming is a "Fact." As is periodic global cooling. If we are coming out of the most recent ice age, then we would naturally experience Global Warming.

But there are 3 pertinent questions:

1.Is global warming occurring?

2. If it is, can man affect it?

3. If it is, and man can affect it, does it matter.

From a purely humanist perspective, by a wide margin, people are killed by colder weather, rather than warmer. Why else would the population centers be around the equator?

Tuttle said...

Anon: Your list of 3 Qs is pertinent. Your last question, I'm not so sure about. Looking at a global pop. density map, I don't think it's reasonable to claim that the pop. centers are near the equator. Most people live near and north of the Tropic of Cancer.

But even if it were, more likely reasons than escaping death by cold weather might be a longer growing season, better water supplies, or richer land.

I couldn't quickly find stats on worldwide, but this NOAA page gives a 10 yr avg of weather fatalities in the US of 117 for heat and 57 for cold and winter storm combined. The 70 yr US totals they provide attribute 1665 deaths to cold, but 3183 deaths to heat. So even in the land of moderate weather and ubiquitous climate control, heat is responsible for more fatality, by a wide margin.