As a farmer I sometimes have a negative reaction to conversations about the high cost of food. Ok, I always have a negative reaction. Thank goodness for our amazing team – they calm me down every time.
This week we had a conversation about costs, value, and how supermarkets set their prices, and I realized that it would be good for me to share my perspective and the less obvious but measurable benefits of this unique regional food model.
So here goes…
First and foremost: good, healthy, nutritious, clean, and trustworthy food costs more to produce. There are no short cuts with Mother Nature.
As a farmer, I understand intimately the amount of work, wisdom and passion it takes to produce, bottle and deliver a gallon of milk, a pound of beef or a bag of carrots. Add the requirement that it be Organic, sustainably grown/raised, humanely treated (with animals), and employ long-term beneficial soil, labor and land practices, and now we are talking about a system that produces excellent food, nourishes the land, repairs our environment, and sustains the type of farms we want to survive to feed our children into the future. Whether the milk, carrots or beef at the supermarket were grown on industrial/conventional farms or Organic farms, these are farms that attend to very few of the above long term practices, despite their vague marketing claims to the contrary. I have seen this first hand. So, paying more for food that is so much better for you and the Earth is an investment – in your family’s health and in the future of the farms that will continue to feed you this food and heal the Earth.
Clearly, this food we want for our families cost more – and truly we cannot get this same food for less. But please read on, this is not the whole story about cost.
We knew that we were asking you to pay these farmers more when we started Farmers To You – so we worked to offset some of that added cost through other savings.
Time, Effort and Health: We spend a lot of time working with our farmers, helping them improve their systems and the quality of their products. We eat and evaluate everything we offer. We drop items that do not pass our high standards, and we take time to share with you all the information about how an item is grown and who grows it. Watch any of our Farmer Producer Videos and visit our Farmers and Producers page. Get to know who is feeding you. At supermarkets and at most restaurants, we have no idea where most of the food comes from. We must ask tough questions to get to the truth! Farmers To You is committed to providing you with the story behind the food; we are committed to sharing true and complete information about our food and our farms.
Many of you have tried to hunt and gather high quality, consciously grown food in your area. This takes a lot of time and effort. It also takes a lot of knowledge about what makes for safe and healthy meat, eggs, fish, dairy, fruit and vegetables. Consider the time Farmers To You saves you every day, week after week. Now consider the value of that time, knowing that time is a scarce resource for us all. Save time with less trips to multiple stores, and save money with less spent on snack foods and dining out, and gas.
Pricing and Waste: We have many stories from Partner Families who have accounted for their monthly food costs and are clear that the more food they source from Farmers To You, the less they spend on meals overall and the better they are eating. So if in fact our food is “more expensive” how can this be so?
There are two big reasons. Number one – most of us are really bad at distinguishing between real value and perceived value, and supermarkets have turned this into a science. They know if they “give away” an item that you feel is a price sensitive item, then you will merrily float through the supermarket buying at least 10% more than you would have, while no longer being concerned about pricing. This is well documented. Consultants call this creating the “perception” of low pricing. Needless to say, it’s a trick.
Impulse buying: Food processors spend billions each year on display, packaging and advertising to get us to buy stuff that is decidedly not on our shopping list. Our partner families are saving lots of money (some as much as 20-30%) because they are able to cut way down on trips to the store therefore cut out impulse and excess buying. Week after week, this is a significant savings. We have designed our system to allow you to plan your food buying to get you just enough of the food you want to eat for a week. Less buying, less wasting. Do you know that the average American throws away 30% of the food they buy each week? Our new regional food system – Farmers To You – is designed to align with your values, and your priorities, supporting wise and thrifty decisions about your family’s food choices. It is clear to us that if you make wise and informed decisions about your food, then your health and pocketbook benefit, our farmers benefit, and our own new food system gets stronger and stronger to bring you more of this amazing food.
Be thrifty by spending your money on the best food to create the kind of food and farms we want. In the end we all save and benefit!
Thank you as always for your partnership is this wonderful adventure.