Roger Scruton, News from Somewhere: On Settling
(London: Continuum, 2004), p. 157:
The criminalization of the old moral economy took a radical step forward when a decree from Brussels — a decree that was not even debated in our Parliament — abolished our old weights and measures. Our neighbours received this as a profound shock. Hitherto they had measured wheat and barley in bushels, rather than metric tonnes, exploiting the fluidity of grain, so as to deal it out with a scoop, a bushel being eight gallons, or 64 pints. Moreover a bushel is the most that a man can easily carry, and the right quantity to fill a sack. It is as reasonable to measure wheat in bushels as it is to measure beer in pints, petrol in gallons, meat in pounds, fields in acres, and distances in miles. These measures derive from human nature, and from our continual encounters with the objects themselves. They are not arbitrary or irrational, since they reflect a long acquaintance with the earth and things produced by it. Far more arbitrary is the metric system, which derives from the biological oddity that people have 10 fingers.