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and took their notes for the balance of the $20 at 8% interest;- and the day after Christmas he married the landlady. (Laughter and applause.) So you see that Mr. Hill has been a financier from the start.
Now I want to repeat again, come to Grand Rapids and you will never regret it. Do something you never did before—meet with the dealers and producers; those are the people you want to meet. I have a book that tells about Grand Rapids and Western Michigan especially, and the prospects of fruit production in this country. There is one thing peculiar about the book—it's all true
-I wrote it (laughter), and I will be glad to see that each one of you get a copy, and I want you to be sure to come to Grand Rapids. I thank you very much for the privilege of addressing you, and I know after you have listened to what I have said that you cannot do anything else except to vote for Grand Rapids. (Applause.)
MR. W. M. FRENCH: We have got to hand it to the orator who has just spoken; he has given the best reason I have heard to-day for meeting in New York next year-he says he has never been in New York, never goes there.
MR. GIBSON: I beg your pardon, I go through there when I am going to Ireland. (Laughter and applause.)
Feeding a City
From the Chicago Examiner, January 1st
HREE million people depend upon the eight short blocks of South Water Street for the greater part of their daily food. These eight blocks, with their adjacent West Randolph and Fulton Markets, do a business of approximately THREE HUNDRED MILLION DOLLARS A
YEAR, and in doing this business they handle the second largest tonnage in Chicago.
It is natural, when food prices are high, that such a center of supply should receive the attention of the multitudes of people who depend upon it. It is natural that the solution of that problem should be sought here first.
It is the purpose of this article, therefore, to give you some understanding of the business done on this street and of the method of doing it.
Into this street come, daily, hundreds of tons of practically everything you eat except meat and bread. It is a street that begins its labors before daylight and ends them after dark; a street that must open with a full supply and close with an empty store, because most of what it sells is perishable.
It has sometimes been said that we enter into combinations to raise prices. Please ask yourself and answer for yourself this question and that idea will be laid at rest for all time.
“IF YOU HAD A HOUSE THAT WAS GOING TO BURN DOWN TOMORROW, HOW MUCH TIME WOULD YOU SPEND WOMEROW, IN MO
A ON PRICE COMBINATION TODAY AND HOW LONG WOULD
W ON WOU YOU STICK TO IT AFTER A FAIR OFFER HAD BEEN MADE?”
That is practically our situation in most of the products we deal in-in our strawberries, in our peaches, in our grapes, in our vegetables.
And no business or group of businesses that deals in PERISHABLE PRODUCTS can ever form a combination to increase a price. Even if such a combination were formed, it could not be successfully maintained for twenty-four hours. If a cabbage is going to rot TOMORROW, you are going to try to sell it TODAY, and you are going to get whatever price you can as SOON as you can get it.
It is true we have cold storage, but with very few exceptions cold storage is used as a last resort to prevent a DISASTROUS price rather than as a FIRST RESORT TO SECURE an EXHORBITANT one.
Next, the PROFITS made on South Water Street are often harped upon. It is a fact, and we consider it an unfortunate fact, that in the sixty odd years of this street as a Produce Center, NOT A SINGLE LARGE FORTUNE HAS BEEN MADE OUT OF IT; WHEREAS IN OTHER CENTRALIZED SECTIONS OF THIS CITY, SUCH AS THE BANKING, THE RETAIL, AND SO ON, YOU CANNOT COUNT THE MILLIONAIRES ON THE FINGERS OF YOUR TWO HANDS.
The average net profit of this entire enormous business is less than ONE PER CENT. It is one of the smallest profits in the business world.
People are accustomed to think only in terms of FIRST cost on a FOOD product, whereas they never think in such terms about anything else. You pay $25 for a suit of clothes which cost less than $15 to make. You pay $40 for a sewing machine of which the factory cost was less than $10; you pay $90 for a typewriter of which the cost was less than $20, and in all of THESE things you never consider the INTERMEDIATE expense. But in food products, most people are prone to forget that intermediate expense exists.
“HOW, THEN, CAN I LOWER MY COST OF LIVING?" you ask. There IS one way that is worth considering.
There has come into the living of this 20th century one feature which has proven disastrous. That feature is the public's constant demand “FOR THE BEST.” Everybody is demanding the best apples, the best celery, the best fruit and the earliest, the best poultry, the best butter, the largest eggs.
Nature goes on producing all kinds of food, good, bad and indifferent, in about the same proportions. But when you demand the BEST, the effort of everyone, from the farmer to the grocer, is bent
upon giving it to you, or at least in making it SEEM like the best; and untold effort is spent upon making your purchases look pleasing to the eye.
For example, it costs more to pack a barrel of apples in a fancy form than it does to merely pour the apples into the barrel. It costs 40 cents for the barrel to ship those apples in, whereas an open headed barrel with a sack nailed over it could be made for 15 cents. A potato used to be just a potato. Today we have many grades of potatoes. They are even sized like peaches to please your fancy. Your celery is crated and your turnips are washed. Turnip washing has become a big business in this present day.
One way to reduce your cost of living, then, is to go oftener to your grocer and use your telephone less; and to remember that a SMALL apple may taste as good as a big red one wrapped in tissue paper; that a potato is STILL a potato and SIZE doesn't alter the TASTE; that putting a turnip through an electric washing machine doesn't alter the FLAVOR although it does alter the price.
All of these things you get because you DEMAND them and all of them cost money. Everybody is bent upon giving you what you demand. Even the putting of the large berries on top is simply an effort to make your crate “LOOK NICE,” because nicety is what you pay for.
Probably the LARGEST FACTOR in this high cost of living is that the public keeps buying to please its EYES instead of its PALATE.
In conclusion, let us say that supplying a city with food is practically the only rigidly competitive business that is left-really the only remaining business that is governed entirely by the laws of supply and demand. Aside from its problem of TRANSPORTATION, which so far has received no constructive action, South Water Street could hardly supply you better or at a lesser cost.
The foregoing statement was signed by fifty-seven of the leading produce merchants of Chicago and their names printed. That's right. Don't be scared to let people know who you are.
The Hen, The Egg And The Unvarnished Truth
Chicago Examiner January 1
“Send me a dozen fresh eggs. And mind, I want them ab-solutely fresh.”
By the tone in which they say it, there is nothing for the grocer to do but to go right out and lay them. Every day the grocer confronts this problem of absolutely fresh eggs—and it is the woman who forces the issue upon him.
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Now, this is not an arraignment of grocers and it is not an arraignment of women. But it IS an arraignment of prejudice by hard, cold facts.
The facts are as follows:
During this present month the hens will lay 60,000 cases of eggs for the Chicago market. They will not lay any more. At least they have not done so for a number of years. They are selfrespecting hens and they will probably not lay any less.
On the other hand, Chicago will eat 10,000 cases of eggs per day. This means that all that the hens will lay in thirty days will be eaten in less than six days.
This leaves a shortage of over SEVEN MILLION DOZEN EGGS still to be accounted for.
And when you have accounted for SEVEN MILLION DOZEN EGGS you have accounted for your grocer's dilemma.
The only reason that the grocer does not give you the facts is because you insist upon being deceived. You demand of him something that is utterly impossible, and he does the best he can.
The fact remains that you will eat SEVEN MILLION DOZEN STORAGE EGGS THIS MONTH. Do not flatter yourself that these eggs will go to the so-called poorer classes and you will get fresh eggs. The poorer classes are not eating seven million dozen eggs in January. You are eating them.
AND THE POINT IS THAT YOU ARE PAYING ON AN AVERAGE OF TEN CENTS A DOZEN MORE FOR THEM BECAUSE YOUR GROCER DOESN'T DARE SELL THEM TO YOU AT THE STORAGE EGG PRICE.
Isn't it time that we looked this matter of cold storage squarely in the face?
Let us take up the economic side of it first. We considered it a great day when railroads and steamships introduced refrigeration so that the oranges of California were not obliged to rot on the ground, and so that the fresh peach comes to us now at a price that all can afford to pay. We said that the age of ice was almost as great as the age of steel.
Why then should it be necessary to look upon the storage of eggs and butter and poultry in any different light?
If cold storage were given up for one year, eggs would be so high in December the millionaire would give up eating them, and so low in April that the farmer would give up raising chickens. It would upset every home in the City of Chicago, and there would be an egg famine within six months.
But this is only the economic side. Let us now study the quality side.
First, then, an egg that is refrigerated at about 30 degrees is absolutely just as good at the end of six months as the day it was stored. You can have your prejudices and keep them just as long as you want to and pay for them just as much as you care to. But the fact remains that there is no chemical reaction in an egg that
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is properly refrigerated, and to save your life you couldn't tell a refrigerated one from a fresh one. The experts of the United States Government have attested to this. The experts of your own Association of Commerce have reported on it. And the fact that you will eat SEVEN MILLION DOZEN OF THEM this January under the impression that they are newly laid is about the final clincher to this argument.
The hen does not lay eggs for your breakfast. She doesn't care a reckless cackle if you have had breakfast or not. She lays her eggs to produce more chickens, and nature has taught her that the best time to produce chickens is in the Spring. If you will refer to her statistics you will find that while she lays 60,000 cases of eggs in January for this Market, she lays FIVE HUNDRED THOUSAND CĂSES IN APRIL.
It is time all this foolish prejudice were laid at rest. In April, when eggs are stored, hundreds of egg buyers are all over the country choosing the finest, largest, freshest eggs and shipping them in hundreds of thousands of dozens. It is safe to say that within ten days from the time the egg is laid by the hen, it is laid by us in cold storage. It goes into a great, clean, wholesome building, where only eggs are stored. That building is refrigerated down to about thirty degrees. These storage warehouses guarantee that the temperature will not vary one-tenth of one degree in six months. Every egg is tested when it goes in, and tested when it goes out. It is absolutely as good on the day you buy it as on the day it is laid.
And all that is true about eggs is true of poultry. In a few months from now you will be demanding a nice fat young chicken or a plump young turkey. And there won't be any such thing, so somebody will have to deceive you to get you to eat a perfectly good storage bird. If you got a rooster in March he would either be so old that he would be tough or so young and skinny that he would be only a bunch of bones.
“I want a nice young gobbler," the woman will say, when as a matter of fact there are only about six weeks of the year when a nice young gobbler is to be had at any price, unless he comes out of a cold storage plant.
If you will do away with your prejudice you can have that young gobbler or that spring chicken any time of the year at a reasonable price, and he will be better than if he were freshly killed, because he has been safely stored away at 5 degrees below zero, Fahrenheit.
And as for butter, it loses nothing in quality by refrigeration, and it gains in purity. Refrigeration destroys bacteria. Cows produce their richest milk in June. They have just come in, they are feeding on new, sweet grass, and the butter fats are of the finest quality. It is at this time when butter is most plentiful, and at its highest point of quality that practically all of our refrigeration is done. Therefore, when you buy storage butter you buy the finest flavored butter that has been produced during the entire year.
If you will stop and think of your own refrigerator your view