Newspaper: Increases in produce prices apparently have led to an increase in the planting of personal gardens. The tw...

Ryan on September 12, 2019

Why is E correct? Why is B incorrect?


1 Reply

Skylar on September 13, 2019

@Ryan-Mahabir Happy to help.

First, let's break down the newspaper's argument. The argument points out a cause and effect relationship - the effect being an increase in the planting of personal gardens, and the cause being increases in produce prices. To support this, the newspaper says that the two largest seed companies (which people who were planting personal gardens would likely buy from) experienced sales increases of around 19% during the same year that the price of produce spiked. The correct answer choice will weaken this argument.

Answer choice E is correct because it weakens the argument by presenting an alternative explanation for the seed sales increases. If a large retail seed company went out of business (as answer choice E states), this would account for the two largest seed companies gaining new sales. The customers that used to buy from the company that went out of business will now likely give their business to one of these two large companies. Note that this does not, however, mean that there has been an overall increase in the number of people buying from seed stores/planting personal gardens. In other words, it does not prove there has not been an overall increase in personal garden shoppers, but just that there has been a shift in where they shop. Because of this, answer choice E undermines the newspaper's argument.

Answer choice B is tricky, but ultimately incorrect. It states that "the average personal garden is much smaller than it was decades ago when inexpensive produce started to become available." This means that personal gardens were bigger when cheaper produce was first becoming available than they are today when produce is expensive. On its face, it is easy to interpret this to mean that larger gardens existed when produce was cheap, which would seemingly contradict the newspaper's argument. However, in interpreting this answer choice, we should beware of three things: (1) the fact that it is only discussing "average" garden sizes, (2) the fact that it is talking about an effect that was observed "decades" ago (as we know that there might be other socio-economic factors that could account for the change in garden size over this time period), and (3) the fact that this observation was taken when the cheaper produce first started to become available (in other words, the larger gardens likely were already in existence before the market began to lower produce prices). Moreover, we need to remember that the argument is talking about "an increase in the planting of personal gardens," not necessarily an increase or decrease in the size of these gardens.

I hope this helps to clarify. Please let us know if you have any additional questions!