That’s right, loyal Marketeers, it’s that time of the season again! Time for our annual price survey. And this year it’s bigger and better than ever! For those of you new to this, 2016 is the 4th year that your fearless blogger has taken on the task, very unscientific mind you, of gathering pricing data at a peak-of-the-season Market day (last Sunday to be exact) and then crunching all of those numbers thru the BFM Supercomputer to arrive at a BFM average price.
That being done I then hit the streets (somehow avoiding detection and possible arrest and incarceration) and made it to two popular, local supermarkets where I (again, very unscientifically) recorded prices for the same items. I use the term “same” very loosely in this instance. As you will see below this is very much an apples-to-oranges comparison.
Now, the point of this exercise is not to show that a Farmers Market is going to be cheaper than a SuperDuperMegaStore. Although in some instances we are indeed less expensive, there is no way for small producers such as those found at the BFM to compete across the board with these behemoth corporations. Instead farmers have to depend on that age-old axiom, “You get what you pay for”.
At this point I could go into all the reasons why you should shop at a Farmers Market, healthier and fresher food, keeping your money in the local economy, etc., but we have preached all of that ad nauseam in these pages. So, without any more commentary from me here is the 2016 BFM Pricing Survey:
So why do I say this is an apples-to-oranges comparison? Well, for starters the majority of the produce you will find at the BFM is grown using chemical- and pesticide-free practices. And some BFM farmers even have differing degrees of organic status. While none are “USDA-certified Organic” (see an old blog of mine for more info on that) the beauty of a Farmers Market is just that, The Farmer. He or she is there, alive and in-person, so you can simply ask them what practices they follow. Can you do that at the supermarket?
And when it comes to meat, as you can see above, the farmers of the BFM are, with the exception of chicken, very competitive price-wise. The major difference here, of course, is that all of the beef you purchase at the Market is grass-fed and hormone- and antibiotic-free. If you don’t think that is a premium check out the price of the only grass-fed beef item I found at either supermarket, the 85/15 Ground Beef at Store B.
In this same vein the pork and lamb products listed above are all GMO-free and pasture raised. New to the survey this year are rabbit and farm-raised venison. While the Market has almost always had a vendor or two that offered rabbit this is the first year, due to some new state regulations, that venison has been available. For more info on rabbit meat stop by either Indian Creek Farm or Sweet Wind Farm. Laura Morgan of Sweet Wind Farm is also our one venison farmer.
As noted above chicken is the one area where a small farmer really has a disadvantage when it comes to price competition. For many reasons, the unfathomably large scale and destructive behavior of the industrial chicken processing corporations not the least, it is extremely difficult for a small chicken farmer to turn a profit. To me, who’s obviously not a chicken farmer, it must come down to finding a niche and just loving what you do. For my family it’s also about quality and taste. For more on this topic stay tuned here next week as two of our newest farmers, Jeff and Nadia Myers of Indian Creek Farm, will tell you the story of how they came to be involved in the chicken business.
As in most things in American life it comes down to individual choices. Pure and simple, choices. And I think you know what I’m talking about when I say we probably have too many choices. All we can do is perform some basic research which, hopefully, will lead us to decide what is most important to ourselves and our families. At the very least, I hope that my little exercise here will help you make some important decisions when it comes to feeding your family.
Until next week, Stay Fresh!