So how's this economy treating ya then there Scotty my boy?
Well, not so very great; it's a tough time to be something other than the "Walmart" of food, especially when you've focused your energy on getting your food to real people, and not just people of means.
Great food costs more to produce. I'm always amazed at how cheap a pound of ground beef is, when you consider
- it has typically been driven around 1500 miles
- the trucking company got what they needed out of the deal
- the wholesaler got what they wanted
- the grocery store got their markup
- the farmer that raised it? Hmmm. Not so sure whether he got his. Maybe he had to cheapen up the product quite a bit to have it all make sense.
Then you have our farm: Raised here, processed 35 miles away, the 35 miles back to our farm, 70 miles total. No trucking company, no wholesaler, no grocery store markup. The farmer? Us? Still arguable as to whether we're getting ours!!! And that with our very lean ground beef sold at $5.25/lb, and being grassfed & from an organic farm. Ask yourself not why ours is so "expensive" but why theirs is so cheap!
Some more differences -- think of the carbon footprint of all the items above on your "cheap" beef. Your grandkids will pay for your cheap beef today, right? At least you get a deal today. Well our beef, you're paying for a better world and better health for you; the whole cost.
So back to the economy----
We have always focused our energy on feeding real people. It's that important that real people are healthy, full of energy, and making good decisions in their lives from health and energy rather than sickness, fatigue and frustration. But that maybe was a bad bet on our part, because we've seen altogether too many that slink back to the grocery store for the cheap beef and leave us out to dry. In a trying/stressful time like this, one would hope that the very best of health and energy and decisions are made, and an excellent diet is sure a good place to be with that.
But maybe this is a good thing for us, too, in that we have to sharpen our pencils, put our minds to work, get creative and find new ways to get the word out. What we aren't going to do is give up, or cheapen our products, or now all of a sudden stick our noses up the butt of the rich and tell them how great it smells. Our food is for all people, regardless of income, it's for people that want to be healthy, but also help change the world for the better.
And who is doing their darndest to change the world for the better? Why, Scott Trautman & Trautman Family Farm is, that's who. How then? The very first and most important way: Being a radical revolutionary and daring to be a successful small family farm. Not giving into the "conventional wisdom" and laziness of thought and action that the family farm is dead. The idea that you can farm and do any damn stupid thing you want and someone will give you a living from it: That is Dead. That creative, hardworking people can still farm and keep the humanity out on the farm: Alive and well in a new breed of farmer that doesn't make excuses for themselves, and challenges each and every idea of what it is to be a farmer.
It would make some people feel a whole lot better about purchasing from the farm if the farmers lived in a doublewide, were unkempt and had bad teeth. That way you could be sure they weren't TOO profitable; it's okay for everyone else to make money, but not farmers, we have to keep them close to the bone. That's the conventional wisdom, and I've now said it. You cringe in hearing it, but isn't it the truth? You don't want to see us succeed and have a nice house out here, if you think somehow that might be at your expense. Yet Kraft, ADM, Cargill, Monsanto, the grocery store, it IS okay for all of them to report record earnings year in and year out. You say you want farmers to succeed, yet bitch about food prices. Words/action disconnect. Words easy to say: real convictions take money and action.
How again are we changing the world for the better?
Other farmers drive by this farm every day. And they all know we're one weird breed here. Organic? Everyone knows you have nothing but weeds and poor yields. Yet, that doesn't seem to be the case driving by here. How is that? As the years go by, 6 seasons now, the excuses they give THEMSELVES as to how we can be doing it -- have to drop away. And one day, they finally give in to themselves and pull in the driveway and ask just what is it we are doing here. And I am there to help, to make real farmers out of the chem-miners.
What's that about changing the world for the better?
I instigated, I lead, I teach the Introduction to Organic Farming course at MATC in Madison. I put in significant hours -- for free -- promoting it and getting the word out to farmers about how NOW is the time to be thinking about organic farming, and to be successful, they need to change how they think, and they need to fill their heads with knowledge, and not just the Coop's phone number to call in the chem bomb when they screw up.
With as screwed up as our farmlands are, our farmer's heads are far more screwed up. They question very little, and they are convinced of ideas that are just not true. If we all went organic we'd starve. That has always been bullshit. That organic farmers see nothing but low yields and weeds. Nope, bad organic farmers see low yields and weeds. All ideas propogated by those with everything to lose if farmers said NO to all that chemical and genetic crap. Those scum have mastered siphoning money from farmers to themselves; they have a captive audience as long as they continue to buy their bullshit ideas. A lie repeated often enough becomes accepted as the truth. And there are a whole lot of lies in conventional farming, friends.
So, back to this economy of ours....
The bigboys in foods over the last few years have all jumped on the organic bandwagon. Good for them. They've brought their ideas of success to organic, too -- domination good, competition bad. Suck up all the competitors, you get to do what you want. We've seen that. Mine the good out of a good word like organic. Fine. They are watching now, and I can tell you they are grinning ear to ear -- they would be happy to shut down the organic lines and fill you back full with their processed, high margin crap once again. If all it takes is a jag in the economy to put real people off the good food.
So NOW is the time for you to show them they are WRONG. When you're looking around at a smaller pot of money -- give up the damn cable, give up the extra recreation, you don't need the extra plasma TV, you don't need to eat out as much as you do, you need to eat right and spend more time with your family; not just in proximity to them but WITH them. And a family meal of great food is but one great idea on how to do it. Maybe this economy is your queue to re-assess just what's important. Stuff? Or people, family, values.
We have put our heart and soul into this farm. We currently work for NEGATIVE dollars per hour in the here and now. If we spread our labors and investment out over 20 years -- well, still less of a return than most of you would work for, but we love what we do, and know it is important work and we are willing to make the sacrifice.
It means so much more for us to feed regular people, that have made hard choices, and this food isn't out of the luxury pot, but the how are we going to make this all work pot, yet they choose us. That means something to us and we are humbled and grateful to those people.
We are suffering along with this economy. We are disappointed to see some customers make choices that lack courage, but we'll be okay; we'll work harder still, be more creative, and never ever become cynical.
We continue to lead by example, and to speak out for what's right. Please join us in that, fuel our engine of change, fuel your engines of change, support our farm, support your bodies, buy our great food, feed the gift that is your body.
How's the economy treating us? Let me be able to say it's treating us GREAT because real people are stepping up everywhere to let us know what counts.
I now step down from my soapbox, and get back to some real work. That checkbook won't reconcile itself you know---
Really piss 'em off: Be happy, be healthy
Trautman Family Farm
2049 Skaalen Road
Stoughton, WI 53589
Mr. Bull, "Shim", and our clearly emaciated half dead 100% grass dairy girls. Wait -- they look happy and healthy, how could that be? Could it be that 99.9% of dairymen are wrong? Nah, they must be getting grain somehow.....