The Hidden Cost Of Perfection


Vegetables in a supermarket, so uniform and perfect, but how many tonnes of misshapen fruit and veg are dumped by farmers because supermarkets don’t want them? Because we won’t buy them. I don’t remember being asked, do you?

Or have we been asked without knowing? Have we shopped for vegetables and picked out the straighter carrots, the redder tomatoes, the rounder lettuce, leaving the rest for the supermarket to dump and take the cost?

Over the years the supermarkets buy what their consumers (that’s us) want to buy. We are clearly demanding perfection. So each year in the UK (and many other developed countries) masses of edible food are dumped, when less than a 10 hour flight away human beings are literally dying of starvation.

Fundamentally, regardless of economic theories, that is wrong.

It’s not so long since you could only buy fresh food that was in season. Now we can buy fruit and vegetables of any kind all year round. How perfect is that? No need to wait for something to be in season. Want a fresh peach in the winter? You can have it!

But how many miles has it flown? How much carbon dioxide has been released into the atmosphere, that ultimately damages the environment which in the long term will increase the cost of producing fresh food? But supermarkets are responding to the demands of the consumer (again, that’s us).

Then there’s the factories, the machines, that make products to perfection. In many cases we want this; I’d rather have a machine make the airplane engine, human errors are not easy to deal with at 30,000 feet. So maybe there is no hidden cost to perfection there.

But there are so many other products that we are making to perfection, unblemished, uniform, untouched by human hand. Is that what we want? To eliminate ourselves from the product and process to such an extent that we don’t have a job?

What is the hidden cost in aiming for perfection in all its forms? Because perfection isn’t human. I like seeing the human touch, the occasional mistake, the less-than-perfect. It’s more a reflection of reality.

Image credit: Lukas Budimaier |

Leave a Reply