Small Farms, Organic Growing, Sustainable Future…

Sounds great!  What will it cost? 

As a businessman, costs must always be watched.  I have an obligation to my employees to stay open so they can continue to work and earn an income.  As a Chef, I also have an obligation to support the local community/economy and use the most wholesome ingredients for my guests.  I wouldn’t have it any other way.  Besides, why would I purchase tasteless tomatoes grown in Mexico in August when I have 10 small farms growing the best within 5 miles of the restaurant?  Cost a lot less fuel to get here and the flavor can’t be beat.  Recently I started having some concerns….

I have noticed that the price of produce from small farms is more than mass produced, genetically engineered crap.  Granted the cost of operations is higher for the small farmer.  Now, this is what’s scaring me.  As I go out and visit farms and talk with the farmers, I have seen a large disparity from farmer A’s pricing to farmer B.  Both farmers are growing organically and the products are fantastic.  Why then is basil from one farm $4.00/lb and $10.00/lb from the other?  I could buy for $3.00 from Mexico, but that’s crap.  It gets more scary. 

I like to garden.  It takes a little set up to get a small garden going, but once there all you have to do is plant the seeds, cultivate/water and nourish, then harvest.  It is work, but is that work worth paying $10.00/lb for basil?  Think about this.  That’s more than filet mignon.  And it takes a lot more resources to raise and slaughter cattle. 

This blog was created with the thought that farmers and cooks need to be united for a sustainable future.  I have the utmost respect for farmers.  You see it on almost every post I publish.  But, when we get “Farmers” that just got into the business last week because they can make a “fast buck” just by planting seeds and trying to sell me $10 basil, something is wrong.  We all need to make money to sustain ourselves, but when I have to charge the same price for a plate of basil as I do for a plate of filet mignon, I will be out of business next week.  Pricing is important and I feel that some of this pricing is out of line and am unable to afford it.  Just something to consider. 

It has gotten to the point that I had this toothless “farmer” coming by and asking $16.00 a pound for some “fresh picked organic” basil.  Please don’t insult me.  I have basil growing in my garden and the seeds that will ultimately grow me 20 pounds only cost $1.29.

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