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Perishable Pundit
P.O. Box 810425
Boca Raton FL 33481

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Produce Business

Deli Business

American Food & Ag Exporter

Cheese Connoisseur

Perishable Thoughts

“It is a good thing for an uneducated man to read books of quotations. Bartlett’s Familiar Quotations is an admirable work, and I studied it intently. The quotations when engraved upon the memory give you good thoughts. They also make you anxious to read the authors and look for more.”
— Sir Winston Churchill

Although Churchill was speaking about uneducated men, we have found that the world is so complex — there is so much to know — that we are all uneducated. The Pundit has long been a collector of quotations and has enjoyed them as windows to great ideas and the motivations and concerns of great men. 7/3/2008

Perishable Thoughts — Evils Of Public Health

“No man is justified in doing evil on the grounds of expediency.”
—Theodore Roosevelt

Perhaps as industry anger over the progress of the investigation of Salmonella Saintpaul boils over, all of us need to remember words that Theodore Roosevelt wrote in a book entitled, “The Strenuous Life.” The title came from a speech he gave as the Governor of New York when he spoke on April 10, 1899, in Chicago where he had been invited to address the Hamilton Club. Basically the argument of public health authorities is that they are allowed to destroy industries and bankrupt the innocent in order to protect public health. But Theodore Roosevelt had another perspective. 7/10/2008

Perishable Thoughts — We Shall Be Heard

“Though I sit down now, the time will come when you will hear me.”
— Benjamin Disraeli

With letters from the Florida Tomato Exchange and especially the one from Senator Tom Harkin, the message is going forth to the FDA and CDC that this industry shall be heard. It reminds us of the first speech Benjamin Disraeli made in the House of Commons. He was a novelist and filled with radical ideas and so his speech was not well received; indeed he was heckled quite strongly. But though Disraeli was new to Parliament, he was smart and dedicated to the right. He was confident in his position and felt he would one day prevail, so he ended his first speech in parliament with today’s quote. Perhaps the powers that be at FDA and CDC need to understand that this time the produce industry will be heard from. 7/17/2008

Perishable Thoughts — Nothing Better Than Agriculture

“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

We received a letter and quote from our old friend David Linder, who we met over 15 years ago when he was with Camilia Foods and joined the Pundit to serve on United’s retail board. We appreciate David’s sending this along, but we were unable to find a matching citation. 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. 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.” Funny thing is… we actually like David’s version better. 7/25/2008

Perishable Thoughts — Who Can We Trust?

“If we withdraw the confidence we placed
In these our present statesmen, and transfer it
To those whom we mistrusted heretofore,
This seems I think our fairest chance for safety:
If with our present counselors we fail,
Then with their opposites we might succeed.”
— Aristophanes

As attention turns to Capitol Hill and the Salmonella Saintpaul hearings while simultaneously, in this election season, we rely on our congressional representatives to solve the many problems illustrated in the outbreak, we ought to remember some comic lines from Aristophanes. At PMA’s town hall meeting on the Salmonella Saintpaul crisis, one would have to say that the tone of the questions indicates that much of the audience felt little had changed since the spinach crisis of 2006. On the broad issue of CDC and FDA, there is broad consensus that they are not doing the job. The dispute is over why. 7/30/2008

Perishable Thoughts — Ego And Public Health

“Avoid having your ego so close to your position that when your position falls, your ego goes with it.”
— Colin Powell

With an industry focus on how to get public health authorities to acknowledge that their original position — that tomatoes were the vector for the outbreak of salmonella Saintpaul — was unjustified, we thought this quote from Colin Powell was apropos. A hat tip to Steve Travis of Hartmann Foods for sending in this timely quote. 8/7/2008

Perishable Thoughts — What Drives Consumption?

“The superiority of chocolate, both for health and nourishment, will soon give it the same preference over tea and coffee in America which it has in Spain.”
— Thomas Jefferson

We decided to take the Jr. Pundits to Williamsburg, in the Great Commonwealth of Virginia, to expose them to the early roots of the American nation. There is a chance to learn something everywhere you go if you are open to such learning. At the Williamsburg Inn each night on your pillow, the staff places a little card with a saying from one of the founders, and we always find these missives from long gone men thought-provoking and relevant. Last night our pillow card gave us today’s Perishable Thought. We read this and realized that the argument Jefferson is making — which is that superiority in health will drive consumption — is pretty close to the argument for our own Produce for Better Health Foundation and its 5-a-Day and, now, Fruits and Veggies More Matters! branding efforts. 8/19/2008

Perishable Thoughts — Perfecting Nature

“Nature does not accomplish things. She is chaotic. Man must finish, and he does so by making a garden.”
— Gorham Munson

David A. Linder from the Military Produce Group sent in a quote identified with noted poet Robert Frost. The quote turns up all over the Internet but without the specific citation we require. Lo and behold, it is not a Robert Frost quote. It was originally a paraphrase written by literary critic Gorham Munson of a larger quote by Frost. Munson paraphrased the Frost quote to explain its meaning to his readers. So the mystery is unraveled and we are left with three things: A lesson as to the need for skepticism; a reminder of the importance of discipline; and hard work in achieving things and a beautiful quote inspired by Frost and expressed by Munson that speaks to the human role of perfecting nature. If we view mankind as somehow outside of nature, then irradiation and GMOs may be seen as “unnatural” intrusions. If mankind is part of nature, then things such as these are part of man’s search for ways to perfect nature. 8/28/2008

Perishable Thoughts — Timing Is Everything

“Food safety recalls are always either too early or too late. If you’re right, it’s always too late. If you’re wrong, it’s always too early.”
— Dr. Paul Mead

In the midst of the Salmonella Saintpaul outbreak, we received a contribution from distinguished academic Donald W. Schaffner of the Center for Advanced Food Technology at Rutgers quoting an important governmental official, Dr. Paul Mead, who currently is chief of epidemiology, microbiology, and diagnostic activity in the bacterial zoonosis branch in the division of vector-borne infectious diseases at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Infectious Diseases. We appreciate the thought because it strikes at one of the central questions of the recent Salmonella Saintpaul outbreak: Is the produce industry on shaky ground in objections to the FDA actions because there was, in fact, a compelling need to act to protect public health? 9/9/2008

Perishable Thoughts — Lessons From Bernard Baruch

“If you get all the facts, your judgment can be right; if you don’t get all the facts, it can’t be right.”
— Bernard Mannes Baruch

With the Dow Jones Industrial Average down over 500 points this past Monday and The New York Times headlining “Wall Street in Worst Loss Since 2001,” we thought it appropriate to contemplate the words of a noted financier. We elected to highlight Bernard Baruch’s quote about information because we think that in the government’s decision not to bail out the venerable Lehman Brothers leading both to its bankruptcy and the plunge in the stock market, we can finally see, if not exactly the end to the financial distress of the markets, at least the beginning of the end. The truth is that there is plenty of money out there. What has been missing is good information to allow legitimate business decisions. 9/16/2008

Perishable Thoughts — Youth, Experience And The Subprime Crisis

“Hire and promote first on the basis of integrity; second, motivation; third, capacity; fourth, understanding; fifth, knowledge; and last and least, experience. Without integrity, motivation is dangerous; without motivation, capacity is impotent; without capacity, understanding is limited; without understanding, knowledge is meaningless; without knowledge, experience is blind. Experience is easy to provide and quickly put to good use by people with all the other qualities.”
— Dee Hock

We extend a hat tip to Richard A. Aust of LiquidPress Company who’s sent along one of his favorite quotes on how to hire great people. The focus on integrity, both because it is hard to lead without it and it is hard to teach it, is right on. Rarely have we been disappointed by super-motivated employees. There really is always a place for those willing to work hard and do what needs doing. Motivation is crucial. Capacity means so much. Everyone is limited to some degree; the question is at what level they are limited. Knowledge is crucial, whether it is technical knowledge or knowing the right people to call and how to get them to respond. Of course, experience is often an indicator — it is hard to have a golden rolodex if you started six months ago, and it is hard to have historical knowledge if you have been working two years—and temperament matters. 9/18/2008

Perishable Thoughts — The Danger Of Success

“Success is a lousy teacher. It seduces smart people into thinking they can’t lose.”
— Bill Gates

A hat tip to Tim York, President of Markon Cooperative, who sent this quote which is perfect for reflecting on a financial meltdown. There is no question that one learns more from failure than success and, as the quote implies, success can be positively dangerous. Few things worse can happen to a young man than to win a lot of money the first time he goes to a racetrack or a casino. Success can breed arrogance and controlling that is hard enough. We shouldn’t add to the problem by designing executive compensation packages in a manner that distorts what true success actually means. 9/26/2008

Perishable Thoughts — Resolve To Succeed

“Always bear in mind that your own resolution to succeed is more important than any other one thing.”
— Abraham Lincoln

With the economy on a tightrope and a recession in the offering, we are grateful to Scott Danner of Liberty Fruit Company for sending along this quotation. Its point seems worth remembering when general economic trouble approaches. There are always opportunities… whether times are good or times are bad, there are always opportunities. Lincoln’s message though is that there are many roads to success and that one’s personal motivation is more important than general conditions. 10/1/2008

Perishable Thoughts — You Gotta Eat!

“He may live without love — what is passion but pining?
But where is the man that can live without dining?”
— Edward Robert Bulwer Lytton

There is much evidence that the financial crisis and the general tightening of the credit markets has seeped into the general economy. Things are not looking good. But at times like this is when we can really appreciate being in the food business. During recent travels we made a quick trip to Washington, DC, and stayed at the Mayflower. In the Guest Services Directory we were greeted with this quote that seemed apropos for a moment when the need of people to eat was quite literally, our industry’s “bread & butter” in this uncertain economy. If we come upon truly difficult times, it will be of no small solace to those of us in this trade to realize that it is, indeed, true, “People have to eat” and things will have to get very bad indeed before total food consumption goes down. 10/7/2008

Perishable Thoughts — Something For Nothing

“When someone gets something for nothing, someone else gets nothing for something.” 
— Anonymous

With all the focus on bailouts by our government and governments around the world, one question worth asking is when the government gives money to “bail out” an institution, where does that money come from? Rick Eastes of Ballantine Produce Company sent us a wry thought on this subject. There is no particular citation here. This is one of those ancient phrases playing off “something” and “nothing” and appearing in the English language for centuries, with thousands of variants. The issue of bailouts tends to be thought of in two steps. First, the focus is on the immediate problem and the “solution” the bailout will provide. That the bailout must be paid for either by individuals in the form of higher taxes or, collectively, through an inflation of the currency, is thought of only later. 10/14/2008

Perishable Thoughts — Stock-Market Fundamentals

“The investor with a portfolio of sound stocks should expect their prices to fluctuate and should neither be concerned by sizable declines nor become excited by sizable advances. He should always remember that market quotations are there for his convenience, either to be taken advantage of or to be ignored.”
— Benjamin Graham

Warren Buffett once declared the source of today’s quote, “The Intelligent Investor: The Definitive Book on Value Investing. A Book of Practical Counsel”, to be “the best book about investing ever written.”  The kind of fundamental analysis Graham proposes and that Warren Buffett endorses is the only sensible kind of investing. One of the things that has happened is that many people have come to believe they should be able to make a living off their investments. People with inadequate capital to make a living try to use leverage. Margin debt is the most obvious. This is significant because our “Intelligent Investor” quote becomes irrelevant if one is on margin; now one cannot be indifferent to the stock price. If it drops, the broker will sell you out and leave you with no stock and, quite possibly, no money. 10/15/2008

Perishable Thought — Reacting To Adversity

“We took risks, we knew we took them; things have come out against us. We have no cause for complaint...”
— Robert Falcon Scott

Whether one is sold out by his stock broker because he was on margin, loses one’s house because he couldn’t make the interest rate reset or comes out on the wrong side of a produce speculation, one question worth pondering is how one ought to react to adversity.

Robert Falcon Scott, CVO, was an officer in the British Royal Navy and led two expeditions to Antarctica. His second Antarctic expedition ended tragically, out of supplies and riddled with frostbite, five men would die, including Scott. Before he did he wrote a “Message To The Public,” which included today’s quote. Leading up to the current economic downturn, many took risks and now they have turned out badly. Yet the risks were not so dramatic as those taken by Robert Falcon Scott and the members of his expedition. And the consequences of losing are not as great. 10/16/2008

Perishable Thoughts — Produce Industry On Trial

“I have to fight against countless subtleties in which the Court indulges. And in the end, out of nothing at all, an enormous fabric of guilt will be conjured up.”
— Franz Kafka

One of the ongoing sagas that we have chronicled here at the Pundit is the story of produce companies punished without any clear wrongdoing on their part. PRODUCE BUSINESS Publishing Director, Ken Whitacre, read the surrealistic story of how Aunt Mid’s was “implicated, indicted, convicted and punished” without being shown any evidence or being given an opportunity to defend itself, and it led him to think of Kafka and specifically to send us this line. Throughout our work on these various food safety issues, we have consistently warned that more is at stake than food safety. The very idea that we are a society based on law and not on individuals with arbitrary power is threatened by the virtually unlimited discretion of public health authorities. 10/17/2008

Perishable Thoughts — Building The Future Of Our Industry

“We cannot always build the future for our youth, but we can build our youth for the future.”
— Franklin D. Roosevelt

Tim York is President of the Markon Cooperative, and serves on the board of directors of the PMA Foundation for Industry Talent, and is really quite an exceptional industry leader. It is in this latter capacity that we give a hat tip to Tim for sending along this quote. With financial markets imploding, the quote seemed particularly apropos. After all, we actually don’t know what kind of future we are building for our youth. Perhaps what President Roosevelt was implying is that whatever the future might bring, it is our responsibility and our opportunity to give the next generation the tools necessary to make a constructive contribution. 10/21/2008

Perishable Thoughts — The Supremacy Of Character

“The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.”
— Martin Luther King Jr.

In times of financial uncertainty, we will all learn how lucky we are. The obvious reason is because we are in the food business. When times are tough, the distinction between discretionary and non-discretionary expenditures means a lot. On the whole, things have to get pretty bad before people respond by eating less food. We are also fortunate to be in this business because the nature of the trade tends to drive out those without scruples. A famous clergyman and civil rights leader gives us today’s quote. Perhaps it is in times of difficulty that we really see what men are made of. It is the exceptional character of the individuals making up this industry that defines it and makes it — in good times and bad — an exceptional privilege and pleasure to earn one’s livelihood in its confines. 10/23/2008

Perishable Thoughts — May The Best Candidate Win

“Many forms of Government have been tried and will be tried in this world of sin and woe. No one pretends that democracy is perfect or all-wise. Indeed, it has been said that democracy is the worst form of government except all those other forms that have been tried from time to time.”
— Sir Winston Churchill

As Americans head to the polls, it is worth paying mind to Churchill’s words as they embed within them a deeply conservative warning of the dangers posed to society by utopian schemes. In America, these deeply unsatisfactory presidential campaigns are, in fact, our quadrennial miracle. Despite wars, depressions, natural disasters and any number of panics, on Tuesday November 4, 2008, a miracle unprecedented in human history will occur. For the fifty-sixth consecutive four-year term, a President will be chosen. Democracy is messy and the winner is not always the better candidate, but it is the best way we have for all to get along together — and that, in essence, is what politics is all about. 11/4/2008

Perishable Thoughts — Actions Speak Louder Than Words

“The superior man is modest in his speech, but exceeds in his actions.”
— Confucius

Today Scott Danner of Liberty Fruit Co., Inc. sent us this quote which is perfect to spark a discussion of relevant leadership qualities in politics, business and all areas of life. Of course, another way of looking at this quote is an echo of another Theodore Roosevelt quote: “Speak softly and carry a big stick.” This principle seems to apply well to business. An ability to speak and write clearly — to persuade — is important and a crucial arrow in the quiver of managerial skills. Yet with employees, vendors and customers, it does seem that speaking softly while over delivering is perhaps the most reliable way of building a strong reputation. That reputation is often the key to building a strong business. 11/7/2008

Perishable Thoughts — Hope Obama Helps Country ‘Arise’

“I am not concerned that you have fallen. I am concerned that you arise,” (Commonly attributed to)
— Abraham Lincoln

Today we owe a hat tip to Dan’l Mackey Almy of DMA Solutions who sent us a quotation commonly attributed to Abraham Lincoln. The very cadence of the lines seems to fit with Lincoln’s prose, and one can easily imagine him using such words to one of his failing generals. But it is hard to imagine him saying such a thing to the nation as it distances him from the nation. We don’t recall Lincoln ever referring to the population as “you” — it was always “we” or “our” as in “Four score and seven years ago OUR fathers …” We asked Pundit Aide-de-Camp James Elmer to investigate the providence of this quote and find there is nothing that connects this quote to anything uttered by Lincoln. Still, whoever came up with the phrase, there is wisdom there as, in fact, falling down is part of life. The key to progress is making sure that the beatings don’t beat you down so much that you don’t get up to fight anew. 11/18/2008

Perishable Thoughts — Politics And Cynicism

“AMERICA is the only nation in history which, miraculously, has gone directly from barbarism to degeneration without the usual interval of civilization.” (Commonly attributed to)
— Oscar Wilde

We were pleased when our piece, Great Expectations For President Obama, inspired Tom O’Brien of C&D Fruit and Vegetables to send us another note, this one with a quote included. It is quite a cynical quote. We thought we would be cynical and question whether Oscar Wilde actually said any such thing. We asked Pundit Aide-de-camp James Elmer to find out more. For ourselves the quote reeks of arrogance. Yes there are degenerate people, but we do not think the country is degenerate. In our republic, the process is often messy, but the effort itself is an expression of hope, and we choose an optimistic American stance over the cynicism expressed, even if just allegedly, by Oscar Wilde. 11/24/2008

Perishable Thoughts — What Is Leadership?

“Leadership is the ability to decide what is to be done, and then to get others to want to do it.”
— Dwight D. Eisenhower

When challenged as to how the appointment of numerous long-time veterans in both national security and finance could in fact be a harbinger of the “change” candidate Obama promised Americans, the president-elect explained that he would, personally, be the force for change in his administration. Which sets us up perfectly to look at today’s Perishable Thought — one of several quotes that have been sent on by Scott Danner of Liberty Fruit Co., Inc., which addresses the nature of leadership. Still we think hidden in Eisenhower’s quote is a bit of a problem for Barack Obama. To “get others to want to do something” is always a challenge. To get experts in the field who disagree with you to change their mind is almost impossible. 12/3/2008

Perishable Thoughts — Every Sky Has Its Beauty

“For the man sound in body and serene in mind there is no such thing as bad weather; every sky has its beauty, and the storms which whip the blood do but make it pulse more vigorously.”
— George Gissing

How ought we to consider the turmoil around us? With stock markets collapsing, unemployment climbing, ancient Bombay under siege by terrorists, pirates ascendant off the coast of Somalia, Iran working on nuclear weapons, danger seems everywhere. One way of looking at the situation is sent in by Richard Aust with LiquidPress Company, who sends along a quote from George Gissing suggesting a way to look at the world in times of turmoil. Rather than being despondent, one answer is to try to find the good in every situation. Gissing’s other point was that if one is engaged, then the problems of society can be invigorating as they give one an opportunity to be a part of the solution. 12/9/2008

Perishable Thoughts — Courage To Bet On Your Ideas

“Often the difference between a successful man and a failure is not one’s better abilities or ideas, but the courage that one has to bet on his ideas, to take a calculated risk — and to act.”
— Maxwell Maltz

It is almost certainly true that most great successes come from people willing to act on their convictions. How could it be otherwise? Only those willing to act outside the mainstream can differentiate themselves from it. Yet if exceptional success is found disproportionately in those willing to act outside the norm, isn’t exceptional failure also likely to be found among them as well? In other words, believing in oneself enough to act on one’s convictions is a route to being exceptional, but much as we would like to believe that the man who acts independently is destined for success, we don’t actually have much data to back that up. Despite Dr. Maltz’s prescription, we may, in fact, need better “abilities and ideas” — not primarily bold attitudes. 12/18/2008

Perishable Thoughts — Blagojevich Digs Deep And Quotes Kipling

“If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,
And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise:”
— Rudyard Kipling

Did you get to see the Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich explain his position on the scandal he is currently embroiled in? The best part is the Governor’s decision to quote these lines from Rudyard Kipling’s poem “If.” Obviously it is illegal to sell a Senate seat appointment, so we don’t support it, but it is also true that many a discrete Governor has made appointments based on crass political calculations, which is perfectly legal. It is only money that is so direct and crass that it is beyond the pale. Governor Blagojevich seems to be in trouble for being forthright. 12/25/2008

Perishable Thoughts—Keeping Things ‘In Perspective’ For 2009

“You’re getting out of a Mercedes to go to the New York Federal Reserve; you’re not getting out of a Higgins boat on Omaha Beach, so keep things in perspective.”
— Lloyd Blankfein

Reports The Wall Street Journal recently ran a non-fiction potboiler entitled, “The Weekend That Wall Street Died.” It is the true story of the financial crisis as played out at the highest levels and of a comeuppance that included the bankruptcy of Lehman Brothers and the “end of Wall Street.” Featured in a sidebar to the print edition are quotations from investment bankers at different phases in the crisis. We’ve selected one of these as our first Perishable Thought of 2009. Blankfein’s admonition to his aide to “keep things in perspective” strikes us as not only almost precisely correct but as a kind of wisdom that we can all take from this “ annus horriblus.” 1/7/2009

Perishable Thoughts — Higgins Boat Story Tells A Tale Of Perseverance

“Fighting for the right to fight often presented greater challenges than fighting their country’s enemies”
— Victor H. Krulak

Our piece, Perishable Thoughts — Keeping Things ‘In Perspective’ For 2009, contained a reference to Higgins boats on Omaha beach which led to a note from Dan Cohen of Maccabee Seed Company. We send him a hat tip for this quote as well as for the sharp eye in making a connection to the January 5, 2009, obituary of Lt. Gen. Victor H. Krulak, who died December 29, 2008, at the age of 95. In troubled times, we thought this quote has a special resonance. The struggles we endure are not solely negatives; they are the stuff that causes us, in our quest to overcome the problems, to rise to meet the challenges. If we were never challenged, we would never begin to know the depth of our own potential. 1/13/2009

Perishable Thoughts — A Time No More For Ostentatious Spending?

“To be content with little is hard; to be content with much, impossible.”
— Marie von Ebner-Eschenbach

Now that we live in the midst of a recession, one question is what the effect of such events is on human happiness. Interestingly enough, though, once one gets beyond these necessities of life, the promptings of happiness are much more difficult to identify. Rick Eastes, newly named Vice President Sales and Marketing at Fruit Patch Sales, LLC, gives us a moment to contemplate such issues by sending along this Perishable Thought. In the economic debacle we are currently faced with, one of the effects of so many people losing so much so quickly is a cultural shift in which ostentation is out of fashion. Also, because, when some have lost, we all learn to count our blessings. 1/22/2009

Perishable Thoughts — Shovel-Ready

“Well, I think we can get a lot of work done fast.  When I met with the governors, all of them have projects that are shovel-ready, that are going to require us to get the money out the door, but they’ve already lined up the projects and they can make them work.”
— Barack Obama

President Obama was still just a President-elect when he appeared on Meet the Press with Tom Brokaw on December 7, 2008. During that interview he used a phrase that has become the very centerpiece of the American political debate over the President’s proposed stimulus package. The phrase he used? “Shovel-ready” — as in today’s quote. The Washington Post is calling it “The Obama Buzzword That Hit Pay Dirt.” The unfortunate truth is that the stimulative effects of “shovel-ready” projects are probably near zero. 1/28/2009

Perishable Thoughts — Urgency Of Desire

“Without a sense of urgency, desire loses its value.”
— Jim Rohn

We owe Steve Travis of Hartmann Foods another hat tip for sending along this quote which we find a little perplexing. Jim Rohn is famous as a particular type of motivational speaker who famously says one must first educate and only then motivate, otherwise you wind up with motivated idiots. He also is intriguing because he suggests a focus on the person, not the job. His mantra is that one doesn’t earn success, that through personal development one becomes a person worthy of success, and it is those qualities that attract success. If one truly desires to realize one’s potential, the statistics on the gross national product are just background noise. 1/29/2009

Perishable Thoughts — Taking A Stand On Presidential Language

“I’m frustrated with myself, with our team…I’m here on television saying I screwed up…”
— Barack Obama

Political leaders are not just responsible for enacting policies; through their conduct they affect the tone of political discourse in the country and the manners and mores that define the character of a people. President Obama explains his failure to both properly vet candidates and to judge the impact of their mistakes by declaring, “I screwed up.” Surely the President and his wife want their children to be engaged with the news and to read and watch what the President says and does. So why does the President elect to speak this way? What would be wrong with simply saying, “I made a mistake”? 2/6/2009

Perishable Thoughts — Wisdom Begins In Wonder

“For wisdom begins in wonder.”
By Edith Hamilton

Scott Danner of Liberty Fruit Co., is a frequent contributor to the Pundit and sends a quote we think is most appropriate to both dealing with complicated public policy questions — such as the solution to the financial crisis — and with business and personal issues. We may demand of our leaders too much certainty. When we think of true genius, say Einstein, one thinks of one who sees wonder in the world and then tries to figure it out. The MBA revolution, in which management is deemed a science, has led to an expectation that problems are best solved through a managerial process. Yet, it may not be so. That methodology may provide answers to the wrong questions. 2/11/2009

Perishable Thoughts — The Secret To Success

“Genius is one percent inspiration ninety-nine percent perspiration.”
— By Thomas A. Edison

Business is tough for many… indeed many individuals have it tough right now. There is a tendency to think that what one needs is a brilliant idea to burst through the malaise and come out a winner on the other end. Then one thinks about Thomas Edison and his famous quote regarding the nature of genius. We can leave the argument about genius to, well, geniuses, but certainly in the industry, success comes much more frequently from hard work than from brilliance. 2/19/2009

Perishable Thoughts — Tesco’s Missed Mark: American Consumer Complexity

“Do I contradict myself?
Very well then I contradict myself
(I am large, I contain multitudes.)”
— Walt Whitman

There is something comical about this image of British executives poking around people’s refrigerators trying to “study Americans” and missing the storage freezers in basements and garages. The truth is they missed so much more. The real problem is not that the Tesco executives were incomplete in their research. It is that the research should start the day one is born. In that sense, the problem is that the British schoolchildren don’t read much Walt Whitman, known as America’s “poet of democracy” for his ability to write in a manner reflective of the country. It is not solely that America is large, nor that it is diverse, though it is both. 2/27/2009

Perishable Thoughts — Winners Are Those Who Dare

“He who dares wins.”

Scott Danner, Chief Operating Officer of Liberty Fruit Co., Kansas City, Kansas, has been among the more prolific contributors to the Pundit in general, and this Perishable Thoughts section in particular. We are not certain that there is some preponderance of evidence that those who dare tend to win. Many who dare probably lose. We are certain, however, that almost all the winners are those who dared. In this sense it may be analogous to investing. If you concentrate your investments, you are at great risk. Most people who select one single stock to own do not become rich; they go broke. 3/6/2009

Perishable Thoughts — Be Whatever You Resolve To Be

“You may be whatever you resolve to be”
— Reverend Joel Hawes D.D.

While thinking about students, it seems appropriate to send a hat tip to Rob Mumma, Vice President of Sales and Marketing for Belair Produce in Baltimore, Maryland. Rob was kind to send over today’s most apropos Perishable Thought. This Perishable Thought is enormously empowering and truly inspirational. What could fire up a human soul more certainly than the belief that “You may be whatever you resolve to be”? Yet, the question lingers, inspirational it may be, empowering it may be, but is it, in fact, true? 3/12/2009

Perishable Thoughts — Why Teaching Is So Agonizing

“Great spirits have always encountered violent opposition from mediocre minds. The mediocre mind is incapable of understanding the man who refuses to bow blindly to conventional prejudices and chooses instead to express his opinions courageously and honestly.”
— Albert Einstein

When Scott Danner, COO of Liberty Fruit Co., Inc. sent this one along, we just couldn’t resist. It does strike us that this quote speaks to the reason why teaching, done correctly, is so agonizing. It’s easy enough, more a clerk’s job that a teacher’s, to present the conventional wisdom on any subject. To sit staring at a blank word document and carry the burden of not just telling students what the clerk would say but rather, in horrifying solitude, thinking originally about the subject, finding connections others have not seen, pointing to weaknesses in arguments that others have not realized and seeking a synthesis between the known and unknown, the suspected and the barely dreamt of, there is little but agony. 3/27/2009

Perishable Thoughts — Wasted Turnips

“A lot of chefs don’t have a natural sense of economy. I was with one guy the other day and I had to show him how to peel a turnip, because the way he was peeling turnips, he was throwing half of it in the garbage. It’s not about being cheap. It’s about being proper.”
— Daniel Boulud

We stumbled across this quote in an article in The New York Times, titled “From Frisée to Finance, It Has to Be Perfect.” We thought it a worthwhile quote because it epitomizes what we have said so many times over the years and what we encourage friends in the industry to think of when they are confronting a recession. This retail lesson applies equally to all business. If sales aren’t what they should be, don’t just hysterically cut things, look strategically at your organization. Is it running “properly”? 5/20/2009

Perishable Thoughts — Sins Of Industry Can’t Be Cleansed By Generic Program

“I think it’s very important that whatever you’re trying to make or sell or teach has to be basically good. A bad product and you know what? You won’t be here in 10 years.”
— Martha Stewart

Much of the feedback from our discussion of generic promotion has identified the industry itself as the cause of low per capita consumption of fresh produce. We published one such letter, and received this Martha Stewart quote. We select varieties for good yield or easy transport, rather than flavor. We pick too early to catch high markets and then don’t properly refrigerate at retail and consumers are often disappointed as the flavor is irregular. Sins and all, there will be a produce industry in 10 years, but we think Martha is right to focus on the quality of the product. 8/5/2009


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