I posted this on Instagram the other day, while we were set up at the farmers market. My post was a reaction to a common situation that small farmer’s face- being made to feel that our product is too expensive, but seeing those same people who hold that notion- spending money freely on items that they perceive to have value. In this example, that item was expensive coffee drinks. I got some hassle online over this example, because some felt my example wasn’t fair because I didn’t show the cost and labor breakdown for what it took to produce that cup of coffee, such as beans being grown and roasted, or a cup being manufactured. That’s not what this example is about. In it’s simplest terms, this example is about how we live in a society that will readily drop $8 on a unicorn frappuccino or other fancy beverage, but tell a small farmer that their pasture raised eggs, pork, beef or chicken- are too expensive.
My post was met with resounding agreement by other farmers. If you’re a consumer who feels that pastured meats are too expensive, I understand that financially you may not be able to afford the meats that small farmers such as my son and I raise. That’s alright- you can still be an advocate and supporter for small farms, and support your local farmers market. I strongly believe that we should be eating higher quality meat, even if it means eating less meat! If you’re a consumer that is financially able to spend $8 on sausage, but sees no value in it, then please consider the hard work, passion and time that goes into the production of pastured proteins, and how humane farming is so important in comparison to the alternative- government subsidized factory farming, where animals are farmed en masse indoors, and never see outdoor or pastured conditions. Please don’t make small farmers doing it the right way- feel badly about what they need to charge for their product.
Please note that the sausage in this post reflects the price of premium/gourmet linked sausage for MY area. I know farmers raising heritage crosses to 6 months old, and charging this for linked sausages. We raise rare Kunekune and Meishan pigs to 12-18 months old, which are smaller pigs by nature- and we are still charging $12. Price of sausage in your area may be different- please don’t get stuck on the price of the product and overlook the message of the post, the fact that as a society we have a disparity in our perception of what food items have more value than others.
The original post:
This cappuccino was made in minutes and cost over $5. This pack of garlic bratwurst costs $8.76 and took over a year for the pig to grow out. Most breeds reach market weight by 6-7 months. Our rare breed Kunekune and Meishan pigs take 12-18 months- and they are still a smaller pig with a lower yield than what most pastured pig farmers work with.
The pig was fed by us over 300 times, and watered twice a day or more by us, in all weather both freezing, and torrid hot.
We checked on the health of the pig daily, and then drove two hours each direction to deliver the pig to our processor, and two hours back.
Then we made that trip again to pick up the meat and pay our processing bill, which for two pigs that hung at 160 pounds each, was $581 (normal costs for our geographic region for dispatch, vacuum sealing, sausage blending, sausage linking, curing, and specialty ingredient costs).
Then we unpacked the meat and store it in freezers that cost $500 each, and pay the electricity to run them.
Every time we go to the farmers market, we leave the farm with a truck packed with coolers of meat, set up our tent and table display, and then sit for hours meeting and greeting customers and selling our pork.
This is why sausage is $12 per lb. This is what humanely raised, rare breed pork actually costs.That is a premium price, but it reflects what we need to receive in order to be able to continue farming, feeding our animals and having some money to put back into our farm.
I can’t put a time estimate on the amount of labor put towards maintaining fencing and structures, driving to purchase feed and hay, growing produce and other food for the pigs, driving to pick up loads of apples or pumpkins. We bring piglets into the world, sleeping in the barn for the first few nights of their lives, to make sure they all survive those first critical days. We see the pigs every single day, multiple times a day until it is their time to bless us with their sacrifice, and provide good, clean, properly raised pork for our community.
Most people think meat is cheap and easy to produce. It isn’t. It is back breaking and heart wrenching work, especially to do it properly and humanely, while being good stewards to the land.
I know we are not alone in our plight to educate the public about the true cost of our product. Society has trained us that meat is cheap, and fresh vegetables are expensive. Think about that for minute. We live in a society where people don’t think twice about spending $8 on a unicorn frappuccino, but may consider the same dollar amount spent on locally and humanely raised pork, chicken, beef, eggs or produce… to be too much money. Real food raised by small farmers.
© 2018 Cristiana Calderan Bell, Corva Bella Farm