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Balancing the Books

If you’re from an urban environment, and particularly an Anglo-Saxon one, you tend to look at businesses in terms of growth.  How can this company grow?  Can we generate more publicity?  What about the brand?

I was certainly of this mindset when I arrived in France.  I would see everything with my urban eyes, and was frustrated that I was living in a place that didn’t seem to care about these things.  Had they not heard of the internet?  Why was the design so poor on those leaflets?  Why didn’t they market themselves properly!

Then the penny dropped – I was looking at it all wrong.  I was here to get away from nasty capitalism, rampant consumerism, and create a simpler way of life – why was I getting my knickers in a twist about these things.  The realisation really hit home after a trip to a local farmer’s shop.

Arriving at the shop

A few years ago, I was leaving the house to go and buy some onions.  My neighbour asked me where I was going, and I explained I was driving to Carrefour.  She said ‘why don’t you go to the farm shop?’  What farm shop? Just along the ridge road.  She gave me clear instructions, and I drove towards the next village.  When I arrived, there were zero signposts, so after a few three point turns down various small back lanes, I finally arrived at the shop.  The place was a complete gem – vegetables, fresh meat, beans, wine, Armagnac – everything you could possibly want.

My indignation immediately kicked in!  Why was there no signpost? Didn’t he know that if he publicised this place he would be awash with visitors?  As I bought my kilo of onions, I posed the question to the owner of the shop, sitting on his small stool behind the makeshift counter.  His reply will stay with me forever.

“I don’t want more visitors, as I can only produce enough for my regular clients. I  have a certain amount of land, and I wouldn’t be able to manage a larger farm on my own.”


He is absolutely right.  Why grow for the sake of it?  That’s probably why people in the Gers live until they’re at least 100 years old!  They have their priorities right.  You don’t need to keep growing, you need to have a balanced existence.  It’s not all about money.