In my previous post, one of the biggest challenges in what we do that I didn’t really touch on, is justifying the price we charge for our food.
I’ll never forget when the guys I used to work with heard I was raising eggs, and
when I told them I sold eggs for $4/dozen (at the time, we’re now at $5 but soon will be going up once we switch to all organic feed), they lost their minds. “You’re ripping people off!” “What are you, high on meth?” “Holy crap!” were some of the nicer exclamations. They never bought a bag of chicken feed and their only experience with eggs was buying them at the grocery stores. One of them said, “There’s a guy by my house that sells them for $2 so you are a rip off.” I tried to explain that the guy is obviously working another job to feed those birds and besides, you need them to do more than just pay for their food. They, like so many Americans, focus solely on the price stamped on the package without a single consideration to the nutrition value or why that food at the store is so cheap.
Every time I hear of someone new who is selling eggs for $2 or $3 a dozen, I just groan and shake my head. This is obviously someone who believes they have to compete with the supermarket price which is unrealistic. Or even worse, they say they’re not in it to make money and they give little thought to what they feed these chickens. Why is it worse? Because, there are more and more folks like me who want to do this for a living and when people have more money than they know what to do with other than buy some chickens and sell some eggs, they are undercutting us. We feed our birds the very best we can plus all the aggravation that comes with managing them in a free range/pastured model. What they are also doing is perpetuating the thought that farmers shouldn’t earn a decent living for what they do, hence the image of the poor farmer.
Many people also experience sticker shock at the prospect of paying $5/lb chicken, $8/lb beef, $4/lb vegetables and $10/gal milk. Producing food on a small-scale without chemicals, fertilizers, by-products, fillers, or any other cost cutting/corner cutting measures means a much greater investment in time, labor, infrastructure and of course money. We do not enjoy the government subsidies that the big industrial ag growers do, which along with their ability to operate in sheer gargantuan volume, is the reason their “products” are so cheap. So what it boils down to for eaters who want the very best food possible, what are you willing to give up in order to be as healthy as you can be? Soft drinks? Dinning out? Movies? Ski trips? So please remember that if you want a future where you have access to whole, healthy food, to support the farmers who are in it for the long haul.