Friday, June 13, 2008

Just In Case You Missed It...

(A very quick post today ... the last day of Vacation Bible School ... but, at least this one is earlier in the morning)

On Tuesday (after reading the article I posted on Monday) I asked the question, "Are You Willing to Pay More?" over on the Epi-Log. I had a decent response, and the consensus was that people are willing to pay more to a point. Click on the the question above if you would like to read the posts and comments.


One thing that popped into my mind is this question ... Does local have to cost a lot more? Does grass-fed have to cost more? I think it needs to cost a little bit more, but I do not believe it needs to cost twice is much. If we really want to take local foods and pasture raised we need to be as competitive as possible. Then the quality product and the price will become a selling point.


The one reason people said they didn't buy local is when money wouldn't stretch far enough ... but, I think we can get around that...

10 comments:

Monica said...

Love the blog.

The thing is, I have not even been paying more for all local food. I've actually been paying less for some items, particularly produce. My raw milk is more expensive but definitely worth it because I can make butter and yogurt from my milk. I get much of my stuff from a local farm.

Interestingly, there was an article on how WalMart manages to keep prices low or even had reduced pries this year for many items -- despite higher gas prices. That includes buying some items locally and reducing packaging.... pretty interesting! Rush Limbaugh may not think local sourcing is an option, but he isn't taking any tips from WalMart.... :)

Ethan Book said...

Monica - Thanks for checking out the blog and for the great comment. I do agree that in certain circumstances you can buy things less expensively if you buy local. Sometimes things will cost more, but it is important to remember that many conventional foods are subsidized...

Keep commenting! I love your input.

Yeoman said...

My experience is similar to Monica's, to a degree.

I pay less for pork because I buy a pig that's locally raised. Very good too.

And I pay a lot less for beef, as we slaughter one of our own that's no longer productive (sort of setting an example for the others).

I used to put in a big garden, really big, and saved some that way too, but as I have to drive to the plot, and I've been short of time, I haven't done that the last couple of years. That's not buying local, but growing local.

To my surprise, I heard that one of the big Mid Western cities (Detroit?) has started using seized vacant lots for urban gardens. Heck of an idea.

Andrew said...

Whilst I agree that as producers we need to keep our pricing competitive, we also need to factor in what our customers are receiving - an item made with real love and care, not only for that vegetable or beast but the whole environment that it was raised in.

Over the last decade we've witnessed the big buyers set the price for farm produce, and all too often it doesn't cover what it costs to produce it. Direct marketing, where farmers receive a fair price for what they produce without all the middlemen taking a cut, has to be the way to go, particularly for small landholders like us.

The benefits to the consumer are they know who grows they food, how it is grown and where it is grown. I reckon most people would pay a premium for that.

Steven said...

If I'm going to go through the trouble to find and buy local then I need what Andrew listed... but if that item is going to cost any more it better taste better! I eat at Subway VERY often because it's close to work and the manager usually gives me a discount (don't know why) but the tomatoes at Subway are simply for texture. There is no noticeable taste in the tomatoes most of the time! If I'm going to pay more for tomatoes, I want them to taste great! or at least like tomatoes.

Yeoman said...

"If I'm going to go through the trouble to find and buy local then I need what Andrew listed... but if that item is going to cost any more it better taste better! I eat at Subway VERY often because it's close to work and the manager usually gives me a discount (don't know why) but the tomatoes at Subway are simply for texture. There is no noticeable taste in the tomatoes most of the time! If I'm going to pay more for tomatoes, I want them to taste great! or at least like tomatoes."

Excellent point.

Generally, local equals fresh, and does taste better. But, on odd occasion, that isn't true. I've had locally grown produce, on rare occasion, that was really disappointing. When that occurs, you just sort of feel cheated.

Ethan Book said...

Andrew, Steven, and Yeoman - I totally agree with everything you say. But, I have also had bad service at the car repair shop ... bad food at the local eatery ... shady contractors ... and on and on and on!

You get the idea ... just because it is local doesn't mean it is great, especially when you are dealing with farming because there are so many variables.

With the pricing thing, I guess my main point is that we don't get stuck into the "gourmet" market. We need to price our products at a profitable price so we can have a comfortable living, but we don't have to price out all consumers ... maybe ...

Monica said...

"Direct marketing, where farmers receive a fair price for what they produce without all the middlemen taking a cut, has to be the way to go, particularly for small landholders like us.

The benefits to the consumer are they know who grows they food, how it is grown and where it is grown. I reckon most people would pay a premium for that."

Absolutely -- and of course, I'm totally in favor of that. Well, gentlemen, I'm off to visit my local farmer's market! :)

Mellifera said...

Oh boy! We just had an abysmal experience at our local farmers' market, and I've been wondering what y'all would think.

-The food was a little more expensive than the supermarket, around the 20-75% range moreso. Now I'd been under the impression that because you weren't dealing with any middlemen, the price should be comparable or lower, and seem to distinctly remember that that's how farmers' markets used to work.

But even assuming we decide that's ok because the farmers are getting a good deal, the market was still really disappointing. I think my overall impression was that the folks selling there were really "amateurish" and didn't take quality very seriously. Which may or may not actually be true- let's talk about why I came away with that impression.

-Poor location. A treeless concrete square in Florida is not a good place for a farmers' market, people. (This is not the farmers' fault. But being the Deep South, with lots of big oak trees full of Spanish moss, you'd think somebody in city planning could find a shadier place for people to mill around outdoors in summer.) Space between stalls was tight, making it hard to navigate through the stalls and crowd. In sticky heat. Each farmer's stall had a little shade roof over it, but both the customers and the waiting produce were baking in direct sunlight. This is not a good way to encourage good food quality or people to stay and/or come back... both of which I think are things you want to shoot for in any commercial endeavor.

-Poor selection. Lots of lettuce, peaches, and blueberries. I know with local food we are limited by what's in season in our climate, but I know that in Florida we can come up with a lot more than that in May. I sort of feel like if they were serious about getting Food to Consumers they might try to diversify more and not sell the same thing as everybody at every other booth.

-Poor quality! You get a lame peach every once in a while. But when one out of ten peaches is pretty good, three of them are mealy and tasteless, and the other six rot within 36 hours because they got bruised from your caring local farmer throwing them from basket to basket to bag right in front of you, you start to wonder if this whole "local produce" thing is just a scam. You can't expect ripe peaches to last as long as those harvested rock-hard. But you can expect their brief shelf life to be a result of innate ephemeral nature, not careless handling.

-The live band. Apparently crappy local food is supposed to be improved by crappy local music?

This place was also across town, through rush hour traffic jams (the market being from 4-7 pm)- it takes about 25 minutes to make it the 4 miles there. Meanwhile there's a grocery store 2 block away from us that sells a lot of local Florida produce. There's something counterintuitive about burning gas at stoplights to buy nasty local produce when you could walk and buy good local produce.

There used to be another farmers' market at a big strip mall down here. Now granted it's not nearly as romantic a location as the lovely downtown plaza the one we went to was at, but... that huge old strip mall is where everybody in town does all their other shopping already, and closer to where most people live. Meaning, they have to do extra driving to get to the downtown one, and not just a little bit. Real environmentally friendly.

So, I guess my overall feeling coming away from the farmers' market was that the folks who sold there felt like they were entitled to have people buy whatever junk they came with because "We're cute and local and you love us." Wrong! I think that as much as consumers have a responsibility to buy locally when possible, local producers have a responsibility to grow something worth buying. Otherwise it's not a local economy, it's local charity work.

Anonymous said...

Ethan-

I enjoyed the video about the family who studied under Joel. My wife and I went to visit his farm a couple weeks ago... what an interesting place... what an interesting family. They give free tours once per month but they are booked 'til the fall. Check out the "Polyface" website for dates. I felt like I had to go after reading "Pastured Poultry Profits". I'm reading "Everything I Want to do is Illegal (2007)" right now... highly recommend it!
-Ryan

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...