Have you heard the phrase "children are born entrepreneurs". In my childhood I used to spend my summers earning money by collecting snails and herbs and selling them to the local co-op for export to faraway lands. Collecting snails was great fun: wandering around the parks, diving into the bushes, rummaging in the grass, treading carefully not to step on the precious cargo (to avoid turning it into "ex-cargot"). It never occurred to me that my entrepreneurial activities were impacting the ecosystem. But isn't life a whole series of impacts...
I was a bit of a budding speculator too. I had made a name for selling to other children glass balls and marbles and exotic cigarette packets. (And Yes, the packets were always empty, in case you were wondering.) One day the bookshop near my school had stocked up on Kohinoor erasers. They were quite rare in those days and I immediately smelled an opportunity: "buy low, sell high". I didn't have any money on me - who would trust an 11-year-old with money? - so I ran home, opened the piggy bank with a paper clip, and took all the coins to the shop. I managed to purchase a dozen erasers with my savings. The shop assistant took some time to count the small coins. Proudly, I took the erasers home.
Little did I know that later that day my commercial acumen would become the subject of ridicule at home. My parents and my older brother poked fun at my stupidity: "how could I possibly think I could re-sell the erasers at a profit"? My mother took it upon herself to correct the mistake and returned all but one of my erasers to the bookshop. My eraser business was wiped out - I guess that's what eraser do naturally.
Back to the snails, I'll tell you a little secret: The best place for collecting snails are cemeteries. Seriously. The diversity of plants and the frequent watering attracts them in droves. I am not quite sure if the French who would end up eating the "escargot" would have appreciate the fengshui of their provenance. But then it serves them right: Why eat snails at all?