Once upon a time there was a town with only two shops, “Scott’s Supermarket” & “Bill’s Supermarket”.
Both shops sold common everyday items, but due to their intense competitive rivalry, they agreed, and insisted, on a very bizarre commercial agreement – every three years all the people in the town must choose one, and ONLY one, of the shops to provide the majority of their household requirements.
The chosen shop would then provide the majority of the town’s basic staples for at least 3 years and the other shop would exist simply to provide some additional items should the main shop run low on supplies.
While not for ideal for everyone, it was workable for most people in the town who just wanted to put food on their family’s table.
That inevitable time came once again… the year the town must choose their preferred shop for the next 3 years.
But to complicate matters, both shops were negotiating behind the scenes in advance of the town choosing.
Scott’s Supermarket negotiated a deal with farmers to be the sole provider of vegetables.
Bill’s Supermarket struck a deal to be the sole provider of fruit and dairy.
This caused quite a stir as most people in the town were used to having both fruit and vegetables (some were undecided about the importance of dairy but many people liked milk in their tea so it remained a factor).
They found themselves caught in a dilemma of being forced to choose just one. Do they choose fruit? Or do they choose vegetables? Does the dairy make a difference?
The fruit and vegetable dilemma caused a great debate in the town with some people insisting that potatoes, carrots, cabbage and onions were more important for maintaining optimal health.
Others shouted for bananas, apples, strawberries, mangoes and pears to provide the sustenance and range of flavours required for modern life. The debate was intense but could not be easily resolved.
People were confused about tomatoes as both Scott and Bill claimed that they get to sell tomatoes. It actually turned out that tomatoes are a fruit, so Bill got to sell them.
People in the town were dissatisfied with the situation but in the weeks leading up to the big shopping choice, they found themselves arguing over the merits of fruits versus vegetables while deep down knowing in themselves that the debate is ridiculous.
“We obviously need BOTH fruit and vegetables, but we’re being corralled into thinking we can only have one or the other… it doesn’t make any sense”, someone in the town was overheard saying.
Meanwhile some local entrepreneurs recognised the need to provide both fruit and vegetables to the people of the town. They negotiated with the farmers, bought vans, tables, tents and set up a local market offering a wide selection of fruit and vegetables.
Bill and Scott saw these entrepreneurs as a threat to their businesses and agreed between them to do everything in their power to keep people away from the market, by making questionable claims about the quality of their produce.
Meanwhile some bewildered folks recognised and acknowledged that a combination of fruit and vegetables were still required to maintain a healthy diet for everybody in the town.
Some small merchants come to the town with their vans trying to offer people the option of some fruit and vegetables but they were also quickly ran out of town by both of the main shops who ridiculed these other merchants as “out-of-towners” who don’t have the best interests of the town’s people at heart.
The impasse continued for many years. The town’s people suffered from a general nutritional deficiency from consuming a vegetable-only diet for 3-6 years before realising they must switch back to fruits for a while. A ridiculous nutritional see-saw forced due to an equally ridiculous arrangement between two unaccountable businesses.
Then one fine summer day, an online retailer came along promising the people of the town the option to buy EITHER fruits OR vegetables OR BOTH should they feel like it. This online retailer offered people a way to easily shop online, choosing according to their own tastes.
At first the idea was considered very disruptive – “but we’re used to eating either fruits OR vegetables… I don’t know if we could eat both again… people might gorge themselves on bananas after getting used to potatoes. And vice versa. That would be dangerous? Wouldn’t it?” according to some overweight local media pundits.
Others were receptive to the idea… “It’s about time we are able to decide what’s best for us. I’ve become tired of being subject to the whims of Scott & Bill’s silly competition. For some reason, they seem OK with it, meanwhile we’re the ones stuck eating fruits or vegetables for 3 to 6 years at a time. I for one welcome a new online retailer to the market. This makes sense!” a senior member of the community was heard saying.
How does the story end? Who knows? It’s ongoing. But maybe check out @voteflux if you’re tired of choosing between fruits and vegetables.
THE END… or… the beginning?