A farm stand customer recently wrote:
Q. I was just wondering why your prices for arugula and kale are so much higher than Whole Paycheck (aka Whole Foods)?
“Thank you for your email, you definitely raised a legitimate question: the cost of food.
I haven’t been to Whole Foods in ages so I am not aware of the produce prices; however, I am quite aware that Whole Foods puts small farmers like us in jeopardy. They can buy in massive quantities from all around the world and provide ‘fresh’ year round produce.
Our greens are seasonal and so currently we have only limited quantities of greens and the prices reflect the seasons. As with anything, per pound prices are cheaper than the per ounce price. Generally our bulk green prices are much cheaper than individual bunches.
Since we aren’t a large scale operation and do the planting and picking ourselves our prices are in line with Farmers Market prices. I’ve been to the local farmer’s market and our prices are similar with the local farmers there.
As we get to spring, our green prices will go down a bit but we will never will be able to match such a large corporate mega store like Whole Foods. The price to support true local foods does come with a somewhat small price that consumers must take into consideration.”
A recent article in The Atlantic did a good job at giving us some “food for thought”
THE VALUE OF OUR PRODUCE (via The Atlantic)
What is a carrot worth? A bunch of kale? A handful of berries? Too often, I find myself on the tractor making quick calculations in my head. For a bed of carrots, there are the soil amendments, the cover crop last fall, the chicken manure, the organic fertilizer, the plowing, tilling, seeding, irrigating, thinning, weeding, harvesting, washing, bunching, packing, and selling. Plus the cost of the tractors, implements, and fuel. Plus the cost of childcare and preschool. Plus, somehow, all the time spent on the computer (where does that fit in)? And I haven’t even mentioned the cost of the land (hundreds of thousands of dollars, in our case). The sheer number of labor hours and material and property costs that went into helping this soil produce these carrots. I ought to shellac the carrots and hang them on the wall.
What are your thoughts? Besides, growing your own, should you pay more to support small, local farmers?