I grew up in a lower income family; food was purchased based on cost and it was stretched to feed the family. Add eggs, bread crumbs and milk to ground beef and you’d be surprised at how much meatloaf it would make. Milk was made with water and some powder from a box. We were never on food stamps (that I know of) but I do remember big old number ten cans, wrapped in a white label, with the words peanut butter in big bold black ink. Or white boxes with cheddar cheese typed on the outsides in that same bold type face.
I don’t delude myself; I know that people have to make food purchases based on available funds. Ray Wickline of Blue Faerie Farm wrote that he’d like to develop a model that would allow the poorest of us to purchase safe healthy foods yet let the farmer still make a profit. That is a great idea that could benefit the health of society.
You cannot stay in business if you don’t make a profit, unless you are major banks and insurance companies. It is something that small farmers deal with all the time. This past October when we compared organic chicken feed costs to egg sales we came out four dollars to the good for the month. Feed versus Revenue was the profit loss evaluation. It did not take into account: labor, water, housing, grasses, electricity, cartons, and labels, other overhead or medical supplies. Just feed costs versus eggs sold and we sold all the eggs produced or at least 98 percent of them. It is a depressing realization that all your efforts ended up in a net loss and that I couldn’t price my eggs to make a decent profit. This is just one of many illustrations of why sustainable farming is so hard and why education and local support is needed.
Some customers are not aware of what organic seed costs, or what it takes to make the soil nutrient’s correct. Or that you had to purchase special insects that eat the insects that are eating your vegetables. No thought of what it takes to keep weed pressures at bay long enough so that the actual plant could get the nutrients out of the ground. What local sustainable farmers do is make the food safer to eat and the soil and water safer for wildlife and humans. No matter the species or type of creature everything benefits from sustainable farming practices.
Organic does cost more because there is more involved with protecting and using natural resources. What would be the cost of food, which comes from IFC, if its price included the cleanup of the environment caused by the industrial farming practices they use? Think Atrazine.
We are organic not because of regulations but because we don't want to be poisoned when we eat. It always struck me odd that we were eating vegetables to make us healthy but that we were ingesting "trace amounts" of chemicals. When it comes to growing food we exceed regulations in all aspects of our activity. Whether it is raising chickens or vegetables, organic and sustainable practices benefits all of us and those of us to come. We will leave this earth knowing that we helped future generations. We will not be rich from a materialistic stand point but from knowing we did the right thing for the right reasons.
We set our prices so you can afford it and we can make a small profit. Sometimes that actually happens, not often but I’d rather more people eat healthy and safely than us make a large profit off of a few affluent people.
Buy Local: From a sustainable farm not a chain shipping local fruits from Ecuador