The Vegetable Market

From The Arthur Conan Doyle Encyclopedia

The Vegetable Market is a letter written by Arthur Conan Doyle first published in The Times on 12 july 1919.

The Vegetable Market

The Times (12 july 1919)


Sir, — My figures were, as stated in my previous letter, taken from a first-hand source. The garden in question is, I believe, somewhat beyond the 20 miles radius, though I do not understand why this should make any difference, since the produce is delivered by the grower. I have asked the firm in question to corroborate to you direct, but the use of names is difficult, as the wholesaler has considerable power of injuring the producer. I repeat with confidence that the price received by the market gardener is from a penny to three-halfpence in the case of cabbages and lettuces, and every householder knows that they are exposed for sale at eightpence or upwards in the shops. The guilt lies between two individuals, the wholesaler and the retailer, and the proportion of their gains is roughly as stated in my previous letter.

Mr. Ravenhill has given a double list of the wholesale selling price and the retail selling price. It avoids the price which has been paid by the wholesaler to the producer, which is the real crux of the matter. But taking the figures as they stand they are of no practical value, for anyone who tries will find it quite impossible to buy the vegetables in the shops at the prices which are quoted on the authority of the President of the London and Home Counties Retailers Federation. It is a mere mockery to have cabbages listed at fourpence to fourpence-halfpenny when all the world knows that they cannot be actually bought at that figure. A hotel proprietor buying wholesale for a large establishment assures me that he could not get one under sixpence. If these so-called "official" prices were really official and compulsory, then few retailers in London could escape prosecution.

Yours faithfully,

July 9.