One upon a time, in a small village, were three brothers. When their parents died, the land the three sons inherited was split into three identical plots. The older son decided to sell only the best-looking and most uniform vegetables. The second one chose to sell only the best-tasting vegetables. And the younger brother sought to sell vegetables produced without using fertilizers and pesticides.
The elder produced two tonnes of vegetables and discarded half in order to keep only the best-looking and most uniform ones. The second brother picked the best-tasting varieties, and produced only one tonne of vegetables. Because the younger brother used neither fertilizers nor pesticides, he produced only one tonne of vegetables.
The younger two complained to their elder brother that his production was extremely wasteful: he discarded half of the vegetables he had grown. He defended himself, saying that his vegetables looked better and were more uniform; "Do they taste better?" asked one brother; "Were they produced without fertilizers and pesticides?" asked the other brother. "But, said the elder brother, I sold exactly as much vegetables as you did. How could I be more wasteful getting an identical production on an identical plot of land?". The younger brothers were adamant: "Yes you did sell as much vegetables as we did, but your production is wasteful whereas ours is not."
The three brothers argued for days and days without reaching an agreement. After a week, they put the dispute on hold to attend the wedding of their neighbor. When the newlywed announced that they intended to raise pigs, feeding them waste and letting them forage in the forest, the three brothers complained: "Meat is so wasteful: it takes so many plants to produce so little food". The couple did not understand: "Nobody would eat the peels and the acorns we will give them, so was is it that we would waste?"; but their justifications were to no avail.
The three brothers forgot their past disagreement in the shared joy that, however wasteful their production may be, at least it was not meat.
© Mathieu Bouville, February 2015