Before I met my husband, I never really though about the value of eating locally or organically. I guess I had heard of those terms, but it wasn't until I became involved with the farm and started reading books about the "food movement" that I really had much of an opinion. I think it's great that there are lots of sources for folks to find out how to eat locally, but like anything else, people need to be aware of their sources and how reliable they are.
I was approached via email by a magazine called Edible Allegheny, saying they found the farm online and though they might be a great fit for us to advertise in. Intrigued, I asked for more information and a copy of the magazine to look through before I committed to anything. It was presented to me as a resource for all of Western PA for local farms, food, and eating seasonally. I recieved several copies, and my vanity wanted nothing more than to see our farm advertise in such a beautiful publication! The more I looked, however, the more it seemed to cater to the city of Pittsburgh & surrounding areas, which are more than a 2 hour drive from our farm. Realistically, people won't drive that far for a tomato or chicken! And the advertising prices were astronomical! I realize not every publication has the low rates of our local weekly, The Forest Press, but for the price I would pay to advertise in ONE issue would put a new steel roof on my hog house. It would have covered ALL of my seed orders I sent out this spring. etc, etc...and with no guarantee that it would bring us any business!! So I politely emailed the nice lady back and shared these concerns and let her know her ad didn't fit into our budget, but that we'd welcome a representative of her publication if they would ever care to do a story on our farm. I let her know that we're a young married couple farming self-sufficiently, with horses, on a turn of the century farmstead and I'd love to share that story with her readers. The email I got in response told me that it sounded exactly like something her readers would love to hear, but they only do articles on places that advertise in the magazine. If I wanted to take out an overpriced ad, she'd see what they could do about "editorial support." It really disgusted me that all those pretty articles were not printed for the value of their story alone, but as repayment for paying to advertise in a magazine that is not local as it portrays itself, but is actually a subdivision of a nationwide company. To me, these are the kind of people who just want to make a buck off of folks like you and me, who are genuinely concerned about where our food comes from, how it was treated, and how its production affects the world we all share. I'm sharing this with all of you not to trash the magazine, I'm thinking about subscribing myself, but just to point out not everything advertising "local" really is. Or at least not without its own agenda. If you really want to feel good about your food, find a farmer! Not a magazine, not a supermarket passing themselves off as seasonal, organic and local, but someone who has dirt under their fingernails and can tell you where the food really comes from. And thanks to LocalhHarvest, they take donations only, so small time farmers who don't have thousand dollar advertising budgets can still share our stories with people who care.
Ok, thanks for putting up with my rant this time, but it's been bothering me for a couple weeks now. I've got to go and start the sausage making process for this week's market, but next time I'll share with you the results of the Delaware chicken experiment!