Buying From Local Organic Farms Versus Buying Supermarket Food

Consider buying local (like through a self-serve farm store) instead of supermarket food and understand the history and hardships of local organic farms.

| November 2013

  • "Gaining Ground," by Forrest Pritchard, is a seventh-generation farmer's inspiring journey to the heart of the sustainable farming community.
    Cover Courtesy Globe Pequot Press
  • There’s a difference between a burger made from a single cow versus a burger made from a thousand cows, or apple juice squeezed from a local farm versus barrels of concentrate shipped from China.
    Photo By Fotolia/Iurii Sokolov

Forrest Pritchard creates a crash course in sustainable agriculture with Gaining Ground: A Story of Farmers' Markets, Local Food and Saving the Family Farm and writes of his experiences with his career choice in organic farming. He sees and argues for buying from local organic farms instead of buying supermarket food and begins a successful self-serve farm store. The following excerpt, from Chapter 28, discusses the benefits of buying locally.

You can purchase this book from the MOTHER EARTH NEWS store: Gaining Ground

Friends at home often told me they wanted to support local organic farms, but in their opinion the food was just “too expensive.” Without telling me so outright, I knew that this included my products, too. Even though the price of our ground beef was very comparable to what was currently in the local supermarkets, perception seemed to trump this reality, and the meat in their refrigerators never had our label on it. That the food they purchased had traveled thousands of miles to get to their kitchen didn’t seem to make an impression on them.

As a farmer, and as their friend, I did my best not to let any of this bother me. But I can’t say I didn’t notice, or didn’t spend time thinking about it. If they were buying their food locally, I reasoned, they’d be supporting the country life that they seemed to value so much, the fresh air, the sweeping vistas. They always lamented when a nearby farm went out of business and was forced to sell. If only a few of them had changed their buying habits, perhaps even persuading their neighbors to do the same, some of these farms undoubtedly could have been saved.

In certain aspects of our society, price and value go hand in hand. No one questions the sticker price on an Italian sports car or is shocked that a luxury hotel could command five hundred dollars a night. In these instances, people have made the connection between high quality and higher prices. Although a Rolex keeps time just as well as a five-dollar wristwatch, the difference in value is unquestioned.

For some reason, even to this day, food has largely escaped this price-quality association. Dom Perignon aside, food is more or less food. Although none of my friends said it out loud, I could tell what was on their minds: Food was supposed to be cheap. Society had conditioned them to expect bargains when they entered the supermarket, placing price above freshness and quality. My sausages might cost only a dollar more per pound, but for many people, it might as well have been a million. When it came to food, the price tag was where the story both began and ended.

Kim Stover
11/13/2013 11:49:41 PM

I absolutely love the part about the "next big slogan". We have actually had that come to fruition in my town. We have as store that has opened up that sells from local farms. There is fresh produce, meats, milk, egg and cheeses among other things. Many different farms sell there. The store itself is run by volunteers. If something is not in season, you won't find it there. It's wonderful to have this available. Maybe someday people will wake up and see the sense in buying local and organic like here.


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