I was in Riverton, Wyoming, this weekend. Among its other attributes (and it really is a very picturesque place, but that’s not what this post is about), it has a Wal-Mart. I stopped there on my way out of town for snacks for the 5-hour drive home. I headed for the produce, which in a Wal-Mart is invariably fresher and offers a wider selection than anywhere else.
Let us not reflect on what imperial machinations the corporate behemoth inflicts to keep its produce section in tip-top shape.
Reaching for the apples, I noticed that mangos were on sale. 63¢ each. How far is Riverton, Wyoming from mango country? I don’t know, but a hell of a long way.
Through the marvels of the modern global supply chain, Wal-Mart caused a crop of uniform-sized mangos to be grown, transported from some distant hacienda, and placed at my eye-level. In Riverton, Wyoming. For less than the price of a candy bar.
My grandfather homesteaded a hardscrabble farm just outside that town in 1948. He weathered the blizzard of ’49 with a wife and an infant in a shotgun shack constructed from materials taken from a nearby WWII POW camp, going on to eke out a living raising corn and wheat and cattle so paltry it nearly did him in. Sixty-two years later, I am buying mangos for pocket change.
I don’t believe in miracles. But this is progress so radical as to be nearly miraculous. Unnatural, even. Luxury beyond the wildest imaginings of the 99% of history’s greatest potentates. Is it good? Yes. Is it sustainable? I don’t know. I’ve got some doubts. What will the scionness’ children, my grandchildren, be doing in Riverton? Teleporting in sashimi for the cost of a snapped finger?