Shannon Hayes: Why are my prices higher than those at the super market? Glad you asked.

by Shannon Hayes
posted Jan 30, 2012,  Yes Magazine

Every week during the growing season, my husband and I cart our family’s grassfed meats to market. We sell pork chops for $11 a pound; ground beef goes for $7.50.

Every week, we meet someone who tells us the prices are too high.

In fact, at those prices, the average net income for our family members has maxed out at $10 per hour. But part of our job is to hold our chins up and accept weekly admonishment for our inability to produce food as cheaply as it

can be found in the grocery store.

The truth is, food in the grocery store is not cheap. We pay for it in advance with our tax dollars, which support farm subsidies that go to support an ecologically problematic industrialized food system. We pay for it with the lives of our soldiers and with the unfathomable military expenditures that support our national reliance on fossil fuels, upon which the industrial farming model is completely dependent. The prices only look cheap because we are paying for them someplace else: through our taxes, and via the destruction of our soil, water, and natural resources through irresponsible farming practices.

The viability of a small farm is dependent not just on garnering a living wage, but on our ability to steward our land in a way that allows it to stay healthy and productive into the future. Industrial food production, in contrast, currently depends on farm subsidies—and on a license to deplete soils and pollute water for immediate profit with no regard for what happens tomorrow. This is our nation’s cheap food policy: Make the food in the grocery store as inexpensive as possible, so that we can justify lower working wages for Americans.

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One Response to My Prices Are Not Too High: A Farmer Fires Back

  1. Lynda McLean says:

    I used to be a farmer and understand how hard farmers work. They also work longer hours than most people are willing to work, as farming is not a job it’s a lifestyle.

    The only reason farmers need to charge so much is that most people support box grocery stores that provide food unsustainably. We are headed into a new way of living in the world and that incudes buying local. We need to force the grocery stores to support local farmers and only local farmers. We need to encourage new farmers and support them.

    If we stop buying from big grocery stores they will have no choice but to comply with what the people want. This is going to take educating the public on the merits of eating local. There is not enough of this happening and as a result, the grocery stores ignore local farmers.

    We don’t need to get rid of the stores; the infrastructure is there, let’s use it as gathering places for the local people to find local food.

    Then our food prices can come down. So two things need to be accomplished – support new and current farmers. Ask them what we want and make promises to buy from them. Also to demand that grocery chains only buy local food.

    Wheat farmers, for example can provide us with our flour etc. They can diversify so they don’t rely on just their one crop. It’s only common sense. Farmers who are caught up in the control of Monsanto can find their independence once again.

    Power To The Farmer!!