Well, if you don't like the labor, you shouldn't do it. Most home gardeners work a plot of land that is too small for low value crops (like dried beans) to compensate their investment of time and, more importantly, the space the beans take up. The truth is that, from a dollars and cents perspective, there is absolutely no reason to plant and harvest your own shelling beans. I'm gonna dub them "pantry beans" right now, because mine are currently in my pantry, and they look fantastic in their jars. Does that make them more valuable? It does to me. I don't play the stock markets, and I don't have life insurance. I don't have dental insurance, but I don't drink Coke. Are we getting somewhere now?
I might be playing a fool's game, running this miniature farm in my front yard. Spending as much time as I do to produce food (and luxury goods like flowers). The market can easily undercut me. Time is money, but I still invest my time in the "profitless" enterprise of gardening and self-sufficiency. Why? The answers are many. Here are three: (1) The high quality food I get cannot be obtained at any grocery store for any price; the goods are simply not available. Not even the most high-brow posh brands can compete on quality. (2) The work gratifies me. When I tend my garden, I feel good. My garden keeps me interested in living this life. For someone prone to depression, putting a price tag on time spent in the garden is an impossible and foolish enterprise. Finally, number (3): beans are political. Anymore, I don't rant about the gross injustices of this world, but I do plant beans. I prioritize my time so that I can do what I intend to do, and I intend to run a mini farm in my front yard. Penny for penny, the massive food corporations can beat the pants off me. They can sell me a pound of dried beans for peanuts, but at what cost and to whom? If I replant a handful of the beans I harvested this year, next year I will know the entire arc of the beans I harvest. I will know the entire arc of their existence. The beans that tumble out of the bluk bins and into my baggie at the grocery store...I don' t know squat about them. I don't know who picked them, who shipped them, who hauled the heavy sacks of them on and off a bunch of trucks I don't know anything about. The point is that the food system is a system like any other, but also that you can opt out of it with each bean you shell.
Can I opt out completely? Probably not. Would I even want that? Is that even a good idea? Also probably not. But is it important, both actually and symbollically, to take the power back? You bet it is. That's the real value, and it's a value that's hard plug into a spreadsheet. And it must be this way. In a world driven by dollars and cents, by profit, the meaning of "value" is flattened out, it becomes, to use the term coined by Herbert Marcuse, 1 dimensional. Value has only one meaning, and that meaning is $$$. This is precisely what the powers that be want. They want their value to be more valuable than your value. They don't even want you to have your own notion of value. This why I plant beans: I don't like those guys; I think their value stinks.