Keep it Local

When a person buys food in a grocery store, only about 16 cents of every dollar spent goes to the farm where the food was produced.  The vast majority of the money spent on food goes to pay the retailer, transportation costs, advertising and other “marketing” expenses.

But when a person buys food directly from the farmers who raised it (at a farmer’s market for example), all those “middlemen” costs are avoided and the farmers can receive the full benefit of their work.

We sell our produce wholesale at times, but almost all our sales are retail. And when we do sell wholesale, we usually charge the same price as we charge our retail customers.  It’s hard enough to be economically sustainable on a small diversified farm without having to deeply discount the price of the food.

Having said all that, we see the value in farm to table restaurants. Remarkably our community doesn’t have one now, but there is one in the works, set to open this summer, and we’ve agreed to be one of the initial participating farms.  The chef is also a farmer, and we’re expecting he will do some great things with our produce.  It will be good for people in our community who want to eat in a restaurant to have the option of one serving locally-raised food.

My advice to those who want to help keep the movement for sustainably grown food alive and strong is to try to buy directly from farmers whenever possible.  If you’re choosing a restaurant, look for one that is locally-owned and serves locally-grown food.  While there isn’t anything wrong with buying food from Whole Foods or Chipolte, and it’s good that those kinds of options are available now, keeping your food dollars in the local economy and keeping as many of them as possible in the farmers’ hands, is crucial to the success of the movement.

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23 comments on “Keep it Local

  1. shoreacres says:

    Here’s a different approach to the issue that I think may give you a smile.

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  2. Ooo, farm to table restaurants sound fabulous! Wonder if we have any here in SA.
    Have a great Monday Bill.
    🙂 Mandy xo

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    • Bill says:

      I’ll bet you do. They’re all the rage in some places here in the States. But our community still prefers fast food and chain restaurants. Hopefully that will soon change. 🙂

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  3. Joanna says:

    Absolutely, unfortunately around here, most people also produce their own 😀

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  4. avwalters says:

    We try very hard to eat local. But dietary limitations and availability are an issue. We laugh that, our goat yogurt comes from a farm not 15 minutes from where we used to live in California. There is no local alternative–in fact we’ve not found any other goat yogurt. Similarly, our organic corn tortillas come from Sonoma County–again, where we used to live. Nobody makes organic corn tortillas here. We rarely eat out–though when we do, it’s a local restaurant that has gluten free entrees. The Michigan wines aren’t bad and we are happy with the local co-op. Our area, host to the cherry tourist trade, thinks it’s a foodie haven. We have seasonal farmers markets (and that’s way ahead of most of Michigan) so we consider ourselves lucky. Beyond the tourism, though, Michigan is a slightly improved version of the grocery store wasteland I left 35 years ago.

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    • Bill says:

      I’m hopeful that things are getting better. Interest in locally grown food is growing here, and we’re probably as backwater as you can get in this country. Aside from all the ethical reasons to choose fresh local food, it just tastes better. Once we get people to try it, they come back for more. I’m encouraged that we’re seeing the beginnings of a paradigm shift in how we get our food.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Deb Weyrich-Cody says:

    Hear! Hear!
    It has always been that farm families kept things going without seeing little, if any profit and someone had to work “off-farm” to earn enough cash to pay the bills (land rich, cash poor; ) but, over the years, the younger generation has been rebelling by leaving for greener pastures – doing less (physical) work, but at what price? Reduced job satisfaction of working for someone else; poor living conditions from being closer to or even right in cities; substandard diet because they’re not eating their own real, field to fork, food anymore… (But there’s no need to tell you all of this, is there?; )
    You and Cherie are pioneers on the New Frontier – and, from what I can see, doing a bang-up job of it too!

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    • Bill says:

      Thanks for your kind words, but we’re just stumbling along learning as we go. I do hope more young people are able to take up this way of living. The economics of it make that very difficult right now, but I don’t think their young bodies would feel as creaky as mine does at the end of a long day. 🙂

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  6. Katie Rosson says:

    This is news to me about the restaurant opening, do you know where it will be? We frequent a place in Manteo, NC that serves only what the farmers grow and the seafood is locally caught. They even have the names of the people who contributed to the meal that night, I’ve always thought that was a great idea.

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    • Bill says:

      It is called 616 and it will be on North Main right across from the theater and the Thai restaurant. Chris King of King Cropp Farm is going to be the chef. It should be awesome!

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  7. woo hoo yeah! funny here in portland we’ve got oodles of farmers markets but with exception of the bigger ones, most of them are now comprised of 2/3 prepared foods…not that i don’t like locally made jam and breads and tacos and the like, but i would much rather be surrounded by the actual ingredients!! i call the FM by our house the “food court” because it’s about 75% food carts disguised as tents….

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    • Bill says:

      Oh good grief. I’m glad we have a few vendors at our market who sell baked goods (since that’s where we get breakfast on market day) but the emphasis should be on whole foods.

      Funny story. We met some young people who had moved to Virginia from Oregon after graduation to start a farm. I was astonished. “Why would you leave Oregon to come here?”, I asked. “Oregon is ground zero for the food movement.” They answered that in Oregon there was a 3 year wait for a spot in the farmers market, whereas here they could come in and immediately get into a market, start selling to restaurants, etc. In the language of business we could say they were “getting in on the ground floor.”

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      • I LOVE hearing that people are going to other states from here! So many people move here because of what we have rather than start it up in their own communities (Portland just did it a bit earlier in time…we used to be known for having the largest # of strip clubs per capita back in the 80′!). Great story.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Joanna says:

        The main problem is though that it is the “value added goods” that generate the profits.

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  8. ain't for city gals says:

    Another thing…one of our vendors makes beautiful jams, jellies and syrups. I bought ALL my Christmas gifts from her this year during the market. And her husband makes these beautiful bread boards….I mean gorgeous! Now I know my husband could make me one but it is so important to support this little farmer’s market if we want them to continue. So…I think these bread boards might be this years Christmas presents…If I was ever to start another little business it would be to have a once a month dinner at my house serving all local (within 50 miles) food.

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  9. Steve says:

    And invite friends to join you.

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  10. EllaDee says:

    I love when cafes, restaurants etc grow and use their own or local food, and there seems to be more doing it. Often the menu prices are exxy and the dishes are quite foodie, so it’s not something we’d usually do. But at our house at Taylors Arm, the G.O.’s cousin now runs the pub and sells their own farm produce and other local produce both in the bistro and via a little shop. Our neighbour cooks there, and we can afford to both eat out and take food home 🙂

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