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Perishable Thoughts

Jim Prevor’s Perishable Pundit, July 25, 2008

When we started our Perishable Thoughts section, we figured it would be fairly simple. We knew we would get lots of great quotes in from readers and figured we could publish most of them with just a little commentary.

Now that the quotes are flowing in we are finding it is a big job. Why? Well, it turns out that a high percentage of the quotes we are sent are not precisely right.

The Internet serves as an echo chamber for good and bad information alike — so just because a quote shows up in some online forum doesn’t mean it is accurate.

For example, we received a letter from our old friend David Linder, who we met over 15 years ago when he was with Camilia Foods and joined the Pundit — along with Lee Smith, who had been with WaWa at the time and now heads up Pundit sister publication, DELI BUSINESS — to serve on United’s retail board.

Well now David has a different position with a different organization, and he included a quote:

I look forward to the “Pundit” and appreciate the time and effort, even when all efforts result in a one line tidbit that helps the industry.

On quotes, I have a few that are in my top desk drawer and read daily as I reach for pen, calculator or paper clip. Here is a favorite:

AGRICULTURE…

The inherent profession of the wise man, the most adequate to the uncomplicated man and the most honorable occupation for the free man.

— CICERO

David A. Linder
Military Produce Group
Director of Merchandising
Norfolk, Virginia

Now we appreciate David’s sending this along, but we were unable to find a matching citation. Now part of the problem is that translations can vary. After all, what Cicero actually said was this:

“Omnium autem rerum, ex quibus aliquid adquiritur, nihil est agri cultura melius, nihil uberius, nihil dulcius, nihil homine libero dignius.”

You can check out paragraph/section 151 here to confirm it.

Now the best translation, combined with a specific citation, comes out like this:

“But of all the occupations by which gain is secured, none is better than agriculture, none more profitable, none more delightful, none more becoming to a freeman.”

Cicero, Volume XXI. On Duties (De Officiis):
De Officiis (Loeb Classical Library No. 30)

Marcus Tullius Cicero
44 B.C.

Funny thing is… we actually like David’s version better, which is why it is so widespread on the Internet. We suspect that more than a few growers are chuckling over that reference to agriculture being the most profitable profession. Then again, Cicero never heard of investment banking.

Many thanks to David Linder for sending along this quote. If you would like to contribute one of your favorite quotes to this new Pundit section, you can do so here.

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